Tuesday, May 18, 2010


"I'll be back in three minutes and twenty seconds." - Batman (Adam West) to Robin (Burt Ward)

I’ve learned with my kids that they don’t like for me to be vague about things.

Words like “pretty soon” are always a disaster. But I just don’t like the business of letting them in on all the business. Why do they need all the details? They’re just kids! Life should be, mostly, a surprise for them. That’s my thinking. And if you tell them what you’re planning, it’s like law. They don’t get the reality that life gets in the way sometimes. If you say you’re going to do something and you don’t, it’s like you lied. So I purposefully lack specificity much of the time when communicating our plans with them, and I think this may be warping them a bit. We get conversations like this:

Me: Get in the car.
Kid: Where we going?
Me: You’ll find out. Get in the car.
Kid: Are we going to the zoo?
Me: Just get in the car.
Kid: Are we going to the store?
Me: I’ve told you to get in the car three times and you’re still not in the car. Is something wrong with the ears today?
Kid: Are we going to the zoo?
Me: We’re not going anywhere if you don’t get in the car.

You can see how hard it is to actually get anywhere without the details. But if you tell them, it’s worse. If they know where we’re going they have to bring 500 things with them. Getting out the door is like getting through a field of quicksand pits. I’m not sure, but my wife says this is a girl thing. They “need” hair brushes. They “need” purses. They “need” pillows for the car if the drive is longer than 3½ minutes.

I’m starting to believe there’s something to all this: that they’re in on this together, on some emotional level, using the fact that they’re female to take advantage. I’m not saying there’s conscious intent. I can accept the idea that they may be doing it without knowing they are doing it. Like a bird taking a dump on my head while it flies over my yard, blissfully unaware of my existence.

But I can get exact about things if I have to.

Me: Get in the car now or I’m going to blow up the house and leave you all wandering around in a theme park in Missouri on my way to go live in Florida with a retired couple who are too senile to realize I’m not their real son.

This they take seriously and get in the car.

Peace to you.

© LW Publishing 2010

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