Tuesday, January 20, 2009


Probably every parent wants their kid to learn how to play a musical instrument. I'm no exception. Each of my kids, I announced recently, will have to play at least one musical instrument of some kind.
"I don't care what musical instrument you play," I said to the kids, "as long you play an instrument."
That turned out to be a lie.
Six year-old Julian jumped on the, uh, bandwagon without hesitation. I think this is because curly, golden-haired Julian secretly suspects that he's supposed to be a rock star of some kind but just hasn't gotten around to picking up the accessories yet - the leather pants, the Ace-bandage-tight Lenny Kravitz shirt or the ability to play some kind of music.
Julian asked for a guitar for Christmas, and Santa promptly supplied a Julian-sized acoustic guitar. We plan to work on the rock star clothes once Julian has figured out how to wear his boxers right-side-out with the fly in the front. So, we've got some time.
I thought Gabriel would be easy. He loves playing Rock Band on the X Box and he even sings Karaoke at his grandparent's house, so when I solicited him for ideas I was mentally sizing him up for a drum kit or maybe even singing lessons. We have a student piano in our living room now, so I thought maybe he'd go for that.
"I want bongos," he said.
I stared at him like he was somebody else's kid. Somebody else's weird kid.
"I don't think you understand," I demurred. "You're supposed to let me live vicariously through you by doing the things I was too disorganized and uncool to accomplish when I was a child. I've already mastered dorkiness."
He pondered this for a second.
"How about the trumpet?"
A week later, I picked Gabriel up from school and he fairly jumped into the car.
"You remember how you said you wanted me to learn an instrument?"
"Uhhhhhhh," I said, sensing a trap.
"Well, I figured out which one I'm gonna play."
"Uhhhhhhh," I said again, but with this time with emphasis.
"I want to play the recorder!"
I looked at him like he was someone else's weird, recorder-playing kid.
"Oh," I said. "Do boys play that instrument, too?"
Still, I got him a recorder that day. I've got my fingers crossed that the ridicule of his peers would eventually drive him toward a cooler instrument, like maybe the xylophone or even the bassoon. In the between the repetitions of Hot Cross Buns, I take what enjoyment I can from the instrument. For instance, did you know recorders have something called a thumb hole? It makes me giggle every time I say it - and I say it alot.
Thumb hole.
Gabriel doesn't find it as funny.

Monday, January 05, 2009


    We're moving into a new house in two days, almost exactly a year after we first moved to Florida. And though we're excited about the new house, we're less excited about actually moving. Here's how I know: 
    With two days to go, we haven't started packing. Not a thing. 
    The pans, pots and spices are still in the cabinets, the DVDs are still in the bookcases and the towels are still in whatever you call that little closet near the kids' rooms.
    In all fairness, we did try packing yesterday. We prepared by waking up early and getting breakfast out of the way. We skipped church (because God understands when you're moving) and Bridget instead picked up flat-packed cardboard boxes from our in-laws and brought them home. 
    All this was accomplished by 9 a.m., leaving us a good nine hours to dismantle the house, cram it into boxes and seal it with brown tape. The weather, as is usual for Florida, was sunny and cooperative. We were psyched.
    From 9 a.m. to 3 p.m, we watched television. We did not even put together a single box during this time. I'm not even sure what we watched; it might even have been an all-day marathon on the "Anything But Packing" channel. Or maybe it was that new HGTV show "We've Got to Be Out of This House in the Next Week But We Don't Give a Crap" show. I'm not really sure.
    At almost 3 p.m., we began to make a kind of progress. Bridget began cleaning the garage. I thought this was odd, since the plan was to move everything out of said garage in exactly two days, but I tried to remain positive.
    "Hey," I offered, "Do you want me to start taking down the wall hangings?"
    Bridget paused and looked at me incredulously.
    "No, we're cleaning the garage now."
     I could tell she was fighting the urge to append the phrase "duh" to the end of her sentence. It was a kind of punctuation - a "semi-duh".
    About ten minutes later, she found a tool that belonged to her friend Monica and left immediately to return it. I didn't see her for a couple of hours. But that was okay. I caught two back-to-back episodes of "Watch Old Guys Golf While Important Deadlines Loom" on the Golf Channel.
    I love that show.

    Grim Bonus: Dimitri Martin goes over some pie charts.