Tag Archives: Family

“It’s Like Riding a Bike”

bike“I think it would be nice,” my mom starts in while the girls are over this weekend, “if we could go on a family bike ride like we used to when you were little.”

I listen. I’m 31, and I’ve been doing this single dad thing for about four months now. I’ve gotten to be a pretty good listener.

The trouble is that Aurie and Kiera never really learned to ride their bikes. There never seemed to be any time to teach them. Aurie’s bike, which she has outgrown, still has the training wheels on. Kiera’s bike, also much too small for her, is sitting in my storage unit (my chateau, so to speak).

“Kiera ought to be able to use Aurie’s bike,” I wager.

So we pull around Aurie’s old steel horse from the side of the house. It’s still in pretty good shape. Schwinns are like that. A little air in the tires, a little adjustment to the seat, and it’s good as new.

My parents’ property sits on a cul de sac. This is fortuitous for children riding bikes or playing ball because there is seldom any traffic. Soon enough, Kiera is tearing around on her big sister’s bike. It takes my dad about five minutes to get outside with his camera and start taking pictures. There is something magical about watching a child learn this, after all. It’s a rite of passage without being a loss of innocence, and that’s a truly beautiful thing.

I take a few pictures and videos myself.

But the real rite of passage comes when we brave the local Walmart and pick up a new bike for Aurie. It’s 24” with no training wheels—too big for my daughter to sit on the seat with her feet planted on the ground.

“They grow like weeds,” my mom says. “You don’t want to go any smaller than this one.”

Again, I listen.

We fold back the seats on my Honda deathtrap and cram the bike inside. This is no small task with the girls, but we manage. My mom and I explain to Aurie that this is something of a special occasion. As far as either of us can remember, no one ever got a new bike outside of birthdays or Christmases.

Aurie is stoked to have a new bike, but scared because there are no training wheels. This is especially true because we bought helmets (one for each girl), knee pads, and elbow pads. Once we’re back and she suits up, though, she makes a Tron reference and is ready to try.

troncycle

I have to laugh. My kids are cool.

My mom lets me try to teach Aurie to balance and peddle for about 45 minutes. She’s done this with four kids of her own, running up and down the block, holding onto seats and handle bars for dear life. In a way, this is becoming a rite of passage for me, too. I’m pretty fit from four months of hitting the gym and eating better, so the cardio isn’t that bad. On the other hand, Aurie is tall for her age and weighs about 92 pounds. When she leans the wrong way at 10 mph, I have to physically course correct her without planting my feet, or she’ll fall. I liken this to Conan redirecting charging stallions on foot by sheer brute force, but it really isn’t half that impressive.

Conan vs Horse

Damn, I wish we had done this when she was five. I won’t make the same mistake with Kiera.

The neighbor comes out and offers his advice. My mom comes out and has a whole step-by-step system for what Aurie should do that involves starting at the curb.

Friggin’ mechanics and math majors. My daughter’s brain doesn’t work like that—maybe because neither my brain nor her mother’s brain works like that. This is a rite of passage. Aurie has to feel the balance. It’s not something I can do for her. It’s not something anyone can control with their steps or processes or methods.

This is the part where I stop listening.

Aurie has to experience the freedom for herself.

She also needs that seat lowered, I realize, so my dad and I take care of that while I pound a Vitamin Water.

After what seems like the umpteenth time running with her, even though the handle bars aren’t straight and her balance isn’t perfect, I let go. I’m ready to leap for that seat, but she doesn’t fall. I count to three and grab hold again.

She keeps peddling and doesn’t even notice.

I tell her to stop ahead at the stop sign, and I let go again. This time, I try to let her see that I’m running beside her. She doesn’t catch on, and I grab hold of the bike again when she hits the brakes because I’m afraid that she’s going to fall.

This goes on a few times before I announce to her:

“Aurie, look at your shadow.”

The afternoon light throws our silhouettes ahead of us, and my daughter can see herself riding and Daddy sprinting beside her without one finger on her bike.

“I’m doing it by myself?” she shrieks. “I’m doing it by myself!”

“You have been for a while!” I manage between pants.

I’m seriously pretty tired by this point.

We discuss turning and stopping and how to get out of trouble without dropping the bike. I use martial arts terms like “horse stance” because we’ve both studied karate.

Mr_-Miyagi-and-Daniel-The-Karate-Kid

What? This is a teacher thing. Connect to prior knowledge.

Then, elated and confident, my beaming daughter runs my ass ragged all over the neighborhood. My parents think this is hilarious.

Karma, they laugh.

The truth is I’m just happy to be healthy enough to do this for Aurie.

Before Aurie got on her new bike, my mom told her it would probably take a week to get it right, and not to be discouraged. She learned in about two hours. After about three hours, my butt was planted on the seat of a loaner bike, peddling beside her. We did go on that family bike ride—Aurie and I in the lead, Kiera and my parents following behind.

You never know, can’t truly appreciate, how good your parents were to you until you go through something like this.

For me, the hardest part, far more difficult than all the running and Conan course correcting, was letting go of my daughter for just three seconds.

The best part was riding beside her and seeing her smile.

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High School Teachers Are Mini Rock Stars

One of the perks (and curses) of teaching in my own community is the instant recognition everywhere I go. Sometimes, I get that Fight Club-esque situation in which I’m told not to eat the soup or fish, but whatever I order is discounted or free of charge. Sometimes, I’m given strange accolades whilst shopping at the local Fry’s, accolades from students who attend the neighboring high school and speak my third party legend as if they had experienced actual face time with me. I’m even getting to the point where the cops don’t pull me over anymore, which is fortunate because I’m a procrastinator and drive like I’m perpetually playing a video game.

Forsooth, and there shall come a moment in 2013 when this blog is banned from the school server because students are reading it in class. I can’t wait for that conversation with my boss.

Principal: You teach Shakespeare, but you’re writing about evil mafia beavers? Do we need to get you some help, Dan?

Me: Wait. You’re actually reprimanding me for getting students to read?

Despite that looming inevitability, the true downfall to my undeserved celebrity status in my little pocket of Central Arizona is that I am human, and sometimes I wish my purchases at the local grocery stores and circle jerks were a bit less… public. My paparazzi is primarily comprised of older teens and young twenty-somethings, after all.

Consider the following situation:

Em: Dan honey, I’m cramping soooooo bad! I need you to run out for me and get pads.

Me: (aside) Fie on it! Fie! Fie! ‘Tis an unweeded garden! Things rank and gross in nature…

Em: Huh? Are you talking to me, babe? Asides don’t work in real life. This has been such a stressful year for you. Do we need to get you some help, Dan?

Me: No, no, I’m fine. Pa-aads… Which kind are they? The Ultra Wings of Great Justice or something?

Em: I’ll text it to you. You’ll forget.

Me: Ok.

Em: Thanks, baby. Oh, and don’t forget to pick up Aurie’s diarrhea medication while you’re there. I called it into the pharmacy.

Me: Diarrhea. Anything else?

Em: Oh, I could use a girly drink. Maybe a Bahama Mama or a Mojito or something? You know what I like…

Me: (aside) …or that the Almighty had not fixed his canon ‘gainst self slaughter!

Em: I can hear you… And aren’t you reciting that soliloquy backwards?

(At the store… Which one doesn’t matter because the students work everywhere…)

In the feminine hygiene and family planning aisle:

Me: (talking loudly into my cell because I have no sense of the sound of my own voice) No, Emi, I’m telling you, this thing you want doesn’t exist!

3 Students That Graduated Last Year: (as they turn the corner) PIIIIIIIIKE! We thought we heard your voice!

Me: (laughing nervously and slinking away) Yeah, you’d know it pretty well, I guess…

Student: Here getting the supplies, I see!

Me: Oh yeah…(realizing the family planning section is behind) Heh…

Em: (still on the phone) Dan? What’s going on? Are you still there?

At the pharmacy:

Me: Yeah, I’m here to pick up the Mega Colonate…

2 More Students: PIIIIIIIIKE! Teaching at the pharmacy on your night off! That’s dedication!

Me: Of course! Now, pharmacy technician, you understand that a colon functions like a pregnant pause…

In the liquor aisle:

Me: (looking both ways) Pweh! Fuzzy Navel?

4 More Students: PIIIIIIIIKE!!! …wha? What’s that sissy $#%@?! We thought you were a man’s man!

Me: No, listen! This isn’t for me… (grabbing a 24 pack of Dos Equis–the crappy amber kind, too!–and speaking in a husky voice) I don’t always drink beer, but hwoo-when I do…

In the parking lot:

(cell rings)

Me: (answering) Hey, Em. Yeah I think I got everything… And then some. Wait… What? You never asked me to pick up Emasculatos for Kiera’s breakfast? In a text message. I see… Right, the pink box with the cuddly kittens. Got it.

7 Students in the Parking Lot: PIIIIIIIIIIIKKKKKKKKEEEEEEEEE!!!!!

Me: O, that this too, too solid flesh would melt, thaw, and resolve itself into a dew!

Student: He’s so epic! He’s in the car reciting that thing from Borderlands 2 into his phone! It must be some kind of code!

Me: (weakly) Fie on’t… Fie, fie…

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Filed under Education, Family, My Writing, Rants, Reading, Uncategorized, Writing

10 Reasons Why I Hate Christmas Music

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Come now, Dan. ‘Tis the season for over singing and adult onset diabetes…

10) I’m sick to death of these modern singers trying to make their version of a tired old… err, I mean traditional Christmas song sound different by hamming it up. It’s Noel, people. Two simple syllables. Noel. Not Nooeeeee-hooo-eeelllll-eeeeeeeell-lllaaaaaa-weee-llllaaaae-llllaaa-welllll-ealll-wellll-ellla-wellll! And if it’s such a joyous occasion, why does your voice sound like a sobbing five-year-old with her finger smashed in a door?

All I want for Chri-iiiiieee-iiiieee-iiieeee-iiiieeeest-maaaa-aaaaaaas i-i-i-i-i-ss yoouuu-oooww-oooooowwww-oooooooowwww-whooooaaaaa-oooooooo-whooooooaaaaaa-oooooooo-WHOOOOAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!

Yeah, and you’re going to get your man back by howling at the moon like a retarded, tone-deaf werewolf?

The other day, I heard a version of The Little Drummer Boy featuring a female vocalist rolling her r’s with every rum pa pum pum. If her intention was to simulate a drumroll using onomatopoeia, she failed more famously than NATO. If her intention was to Latinize the song, she insulted Chicanos everywhere. If her intention was to make it sound like the Little Drummer Boy was firing a machine gun at the token livestock gathered for the Nativity scene, she succeeded brilliantly.

9) Am I the only one who notices the horrible innuendos, voyeurism, and zeitgeists that occur in the “modern classics”?

Have a Holly Jolly Christmas:

Somebody waits for you/

Kiss her once for me!

Wait… what? A minute ago, you were singing about the joys of the holiday season, and now you’re encouraging me to make out with some “ho” under the mistletoe just so you can watch? Is this how you get your jollies, Burl Ives?

Baby, It’s Cold Outside:

I simply must go/

The answer is no…/

Hey, what’s in this drink?/

Wow. What a charming, family oriented song about roofie-ing some poor girl you “rescued” from the snow storm only to imprison at your house (serial killer lair) until she gives it up to you. I guess they didn’t have date rape in the ’50’s when this song came out.

Hell, while I’m writing this, the DJs on the Christmas station are discussing STDs. I rest my case.

8) Christmas music actually advocates for absentee parenting.

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas:

Dolls that can talk and will go for a walk/

Are the hope of Janice and Jen/

And mom and dad can hardly wait for school to start again!/

Yeah, the truth comes out. Teachers are glorified babysitters because you jerks don’t know how to handle your own kids.

7) I have to hear Elvis, who has no idea how to enunciate and sounds like the Godfather trying to sing with a mouth full of mashed potatoes. Or a hick trying to sing with a mouth full of deep fried peanut butter and cocaine sandwiches.

Elvis:

Uhllevavlue…

Backup Singers:

Oooooo-uuuoooo-eeeeee-oooo-ehwl!

Elvis:

C-c-c-hristmas…hubbalavout you!

6) Last Christmas I Gave You My Heart…

And the very next day, you made yet another version of this awful song. What’s worse is that I have no sympathy for you. You had a one night stand with some jerk at the company Christmas party or whatever (Tell me baby, do you recognize me?/ Well, it’s been a year, it doesn’t surprise me/), and I’m supposed to empathize with you? And you’re still not over it a year later? Oh, but you “found a real love” and can’t be fooled again–yet you’re still whining about this a year later!

What’s even worse is that I get this travesty stuck in my head and write my own lyrics, which are even too horrible to be posted here… (A Facebook lover with a fire in his fart…)

5) Carol of the Bells…

My five-year-old is terrified of this song. Apparently, so is Peter Griffin. Of course, it always reminds me of that stupid “Ding Fries Are Done!” YouTube video that was funny ten years ago before I had matured into the sensible, cultivated man I am today. 😉

4) It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year…

If that’s so, why is it a tour de force of all the overrated, mainstream vocalists that I couldn’t stand from every era involving vinyl? And Andy Williams, were you just totally trashed when you spit out, “There’ll be scary ghost stories and tales of the glories of Christmases long, long agooooo!”

In what Christmas tradition does one toast marshmallows over a fire and tell ghost stories? That’s called a camping trip, you moron! The only possible similarity there is the tree!

3) Edward Cullen…err, I mean Satan Claws…err, I mean Santa Claus is Coming to Town…

He sees you when you’re sleeping. He knows when you’re awake. He knows where all the naughty girls are. He’s immortal and oft misunderstood. Could Santa Claus be a sparkly vampire?

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You’d better be good, and not just for goodness’ sake… Uuuaaggh! I’m so angsty!

2) Simply Having a Wonderful Christmas Time…

Paul McCartney, did you think that because you were a Beatle that you didn’t have to actually write anything good? That people would listen to utter crap that falls flat on every level and doesn’t say anything about anything just because you’re Paul McCartney? Did you write this song on the one-ply toilet paper at the hotel and just perform it right afterwards? I mean, you basically just put out: I’m Paul McCartney. And that’s enough. 

1) Didn’t see your favorite Christmas tune here? Maybe that’s because the radio in Arizona basically plays these same freaking songs over and over and over again, and I have to listen to it all for the sake of my girls. (I could seriously go for You’re a Mean One Mr. Grinch, but at least I haven’t had to hear Alvin and the Chipmunks this year–yet.) The only one I didn’t touch on is Feliz Navidad, which is actually hysterical because my gringo kids, who apparently learned absolutely nothing from watching Dora the Explorer, think the guy on the radio is singing about the Hydra.

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Aurie: Feliz Navidad… Oh sumthin’ Hydra feliz di-dad!

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Filed under Family, My Writing, Rants, Uncategorized, Writing