Tuesday, May 05, 2009


    In theory, my kids are old enough to dress themselves. I should be able to wake them up at six every morning, give them a good morning hug and then stand back as they shower, dress and then fix themselves a nutritious breakfast. 
    But that's not the way it works with my kids. My kids get stuck.
    On some mornings I come out of my room and find all three kids standing buck naked in the living room and staring at a rerun of Jim Cramer's "Mad Money" on CNBC.
    "Why aren't you getting ready for school"? I ask my kids.
    They just shrug without answering, which bothers me for a few reasons. First, it's important that my kids leave for school on time because it shows respect for the institution. 
    Also, only daddies are allowed to get naked with Jim Cramer.
    Even without Jim Cramer to distract them, my kids still get stuck.
    Take the other morning. As is my habit, I was wandering confused around the house in my underwear. I passed through the kitchen. Gabriel and Julian were eating cereal out of red bowls. Both were in their boxers. What follows is their actual conversation.
    "Three million," said six year-old Julian.
    "Nope," said his older brother Gabriel.
    I took my shower, put on my clothes and resumed strolling around the house. I contemplated getting my wallet and keys together, but I consider procrastination a kind of art - and you can't rush art. I passed the boys again. They were still at the table.
    "Twenty-one million," said Julian.
    "Nope," said Gabriel.
    Now, I was interested.
    "What are you doing?" I ask.
    "We're playing a game," Gabriel volunteered. "I pick a number between one and infinity and Julian has to guess it."
    "One bazillion!" Julian shouted out as if he's picked up a clue from our conversation.
    Gabriel looked at him with a mixture of disdain and boredom.
    "Nope," he said again.
    They were stuck. Neither of these two would give up this game - no matter how inane it is. We would be late for school and I hate being late for school. Partially, this is because I respect the institution. It's also because Gabriel's principal gives me the hinky evil eye every time I drop him off late. I decided to help the boys get unstuck.
    "Julian, I'm thinking of a number between one and three. Guess it."
    "Two!" shouted Julian.
    I high-fived him. "Good work, little man. Now, put your bowls in the sink. It's time to get dressed.We have ten minutes before we leave for school."
    Gabriel got up. He seemed irritated and relieved at the same time. He picked up his bowl and turned toward the sink. At least we're making headway, I thought. We've got a chance to make it on time.
    "Where's your sister?" I ask the boys.
    "She's still asleep," Julian answers, unworried.

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