CrowBiz

…funk for the old soul…

Posts Tagged ‘boys’

Recipe for Phun

Posted by crowbiz on January 21, 2010

With these gloomy days of winter upon me, it’s all I can do to avoid plunging face-down into a carbohydrate-fueled funk every day.   Here’s a little gem I found last summer in SonWon’s shorts pocket and just rediscovered among my papers this week.  It was a to-do list he had made for his 10th birthday last July.  Against all sense, we agreed to host a party and sleepover of seven boys, and G-man – normally as structured as a weed garden – decided it was monumental enough an event to actually plan out.  It’s a bit herky-jerky, with some group activities scheduled to begin before the 5:00 guest arrival time, but c’est la vie when you’re turning 10.

The Perfect Day

Though his spelling and penmanship hint strongly at “short bus,” I’m happy to say that the boy attends an honors school, which – thank god – recognizes other characteristics.

Thus I give you a breath of childhood summer:

1.  Eat breakfast

2.  Collect water guns

3.  Start war and make fort

4.  Wait for 5:00

5.  really start war

(He crossed off these first five items, but evidently, the action began in earnest after this and there was no more time to follow the protocol.)

6. dry off    split into two groups.  play Playmobile.

7.  open presents and mabe biuld one    (Confident he would get several coveted  Lego sets – it goes unsaid)

8.  Play some more, eat.

9.  watch moive

10.  “go to sleep” and draw on someones face   (Foiled!  Sadly, the intended target didn’t fall asleep first.)

11.  build more lego and go to sleep

Would that we could all have that day.

Posted in Bunkbed Confidential, Life In the Mod Podge Lane | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

Mr. Crow Builds His Dream House

Posted by crowbiz on September 24, 2009

No, it wasn’t Cary Grant toiling away in our backyard all summer, it was Mr. Crow, living proof of back-busting, hard-ass German heritage.  

 

BEFORE

BEFORE

It all started so simply.  SonWon mused that it might be nice to upgrade the boys’ years-old “playhouse” (more of a play platform with a death drop slide) and cheerfully drew up a few outlandish sketches for improvements.  We had to reject the three-story plan and go with something that would fit the confines of our wee lot, but Mr Crow did manage to use one of the ideas.  Perhaps the biggest fuel was a borrowed book on treehouses, some humble and many stunningly sumptuous.  Using the existing playhouse he built six years ago, he began the reconfiguration in July.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Working with only his own sketches and some kind of Lego gene, Mr Crow managed to whip up a pretty fab launching pad for the boys’ – and possibly adult – fun.  Minimal help came in the form of a boy or two bracing a board, hauling lumber, or handing over a drill, but it was largely a solo job.  I stayed almost entirely clear, other than to dictate where the reaches of the structure could not go.  Oh, and I did the metal roof with him.  During construction, an unknown neighbor in the next-door rental called out to Mr. Crow, “Do your kids call you ‘SuperDad’?”  Windows and doors are salvaged – the house was sort of made to fit around them.  All cedar.  Two ladders.  Deck.  Driftwood railings.  And ~ drumroll ~ a trap door! (a great anxiety engine for mom, who has seen a fair share of clunked heads and pinched fingers already). 

Treehouse3   To everyone’s dismay, I keep threatening to gussy it up with a few window boxes or planters next year, which I fully realize will spoil the intent of a boys’ playhouse, but still, it is an awfully big wooden rectangle.  Soon enough, there will be drawings, carvings and homemade weapons of torture peppering it, but I’m determined to sneak in a few garden touches when no one is looking.  

 

 

It was christened on Labor Day with the first sleepover.  Ridiculously, four boys actually managed to fit and sleep inside after fashioning wall-to-wall sleeping bags and cushions, but at 7 and 10, they’re young enough to still be satisfied sleeping like puppies in a pile.  Cleverly (I can’t imagine this was accidental), Mr Crow scaled it to comfortably accommodate two adults in a horizontal position, but the house has yet to endure a trial run.  For the time being, I like to eat my lunch on the deck.

Hats off and bottoms up to Mr. Crow!

  

Boy den, ready for accessorizing.  Girls allowed.

Boy den, ready for accessorizing. Girls allowed.

Posted in Life In the Mod Podge Lane | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 36 Comments »

The Sort-of Facts of Life

Posted by crowbiz on June 16, 2009

 

 

 

 

hilarious cards by wryandginger on etsy

hilarious cards by wryandginger on etsy

The Bunkbed Confidential category is so named for the weird and often heartfelt conversations that seem to transpire at the boys’ bedtime, a usually chaotic time that ends most nights with parental cuddling for each boy in their respective beds.  Since the boys were little, however, they’ve tended to spill the beans to mom rather than Mr Crow, probably out of sheer availability and time logged in mandatory cuddling, and I’m milking this all I can until we hit the monosyllabic grunt years.  The habit and need surrounding the cuddling ritual is so entrenched that there are times when I seriously worry I will have to drive to their eventual dorm rooms and lie down next to them with my hand across their chest.

 

 

 

 

While we’ve never had anything remotely resembling a sit-down lesson on the facts of life – that is, matters sexual, not mortgage, tax or annoying coworkers – various topics have come up over time and I address them as is, which leads to meandering but informative sessions.  It’s easy to see that SonWon, when given an interesting new piece of bodily information, is eager to think of ways to work it into conversations with others, and I’ve encouraged him to act wisely and not try to become the Merck Manual of Bus 408.  

Way back in first grade, he told me (from the top bunk) that some kids and he were discussing “boobs” at the school lunch table.  “Really?” I said, wondering what he could possibly have contributed to the conversation. “And what did you say?”  He was forthright:  “I told them you had big ones.”   I advised him that “breasts” was a better word to use.  Careful not to dissuade him from disclosing info, I try to keep things lighthearted.  It also helps that he’s had to sit through many of my lectures on very basic brain anatomy and function, and considers me an expert on biological matters.  Whenever I honestly tell him I don’t know the answer to some physiological function like renal failure, he assumes I’m just too tired or busy to bother crafting an reply – I’m holding out on him.

Though SonWon had for some time known that a man’s penis and “cells” from both parents are somehow involved in making babies, we never got to the specifics until one bedtime session when he was in second grade.  He asked the dreaded question about how the man’s cells get into the woman.  Like many kids, he had a fuzzy notion that kissing was involved, since it’s usually the most obvious and intimate physical contact most kids witness between parents – one hopes.  At the time, I was lounging in the lower bunk with SonToo, who was about 4 or 5 and still sucked his thumb.  He was listening closely, as always, wondering if this might somehow be of interest or import to him, but letting his big bro do the talking.

Since matter-of-fact is my normal daily mode, I laid out a hypothetical baby-making strategy in a few simple steps.  The sperm cells come out of the man’s penis, which has to go inside the woman, specifically, the vagina, or as SonWon already knew it, the birth canal.  Then the sperm meets up with the egg for tapas and drinks before merging. (If I’ve misstated something here, someone should email me.  But I think I have the basics right, which, sadly, many people do not.  When teaching Human Sexuality to college students, I inevitably get mired down explaining facts that anyone who has reached the age of 12 should know, but I just pick my jaw up off the floor and continue with impromptu hand-scrawled diagrams.  My penis cross-section is famous, if wince-inducing.  Even more class time is wasted dispelling ridiculous misinformation and rumors that have surprising tenacity, considering I heard the same things 30 years ago.)

SonWon was momentarily mortified at the idea of insertion and insisted I repeat it, since I’m known to prank him with a straight face and weary sigh for extra fool-power.  “You mean it really goes inside the woman’s body?” he asked. I affirmed this.  SonToo, three steps behind at kissing, suddenly sprang upright as if propelled by a broken coil.  His thumb shot out of his mouth with a comic pop, and he shouted in horror, “IN DA MOUTH?!  Eeeewww!!”

 

photo by Pavel Krok

photo by Pavel Krok

This isn’t what you envision, no matter what your philosophy of sexual education.  I had to literally press him back down, perhaps like some cartoon version of getting a corpse to lie flat in a casket.  This exclamation concerned SonWon, probably making him think he wasn’t listening closely enough and had misinterpreted something about where the penis is supposed to go.  “No, really, Mom, does it have to go in the woman’s mouth?!” he worried.  They followed up with a duet of more “eeeewwwws.”

 

Haha, you say.  It’s not so ha-ha when you’ve been caught off guard and have to get the game back into regulation time.  A few mental stops and starts slowed my response, what with ideas of oral sex and avoiding explaining oral sex, but I managed something to the effect of “The penis does not go in the woman’s mouth….to make a baby.”  It was tempting to tell them the mouth is the only place the penis should go until they finish graduate school and have good-paying jobs.  Double sighs of relief told me that was enough for them, and they’d be ruminating on it long enough that I didn’t need to burden them with more facts right then and there.  Anyway, I knew the other shoe was not just about to drop, but crash, freight train-like, to the floor from SonWon.

“So that means you and Dad had to….”

There’s nothing like ending the day by hearing your kids’ “eeeeewws” grow quieter and quieter under the peaceful veil of sleep.

Posted in Bunkbed Confidential | Tagged: , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Ma Barker Ain’t Got Nothin’ On Me

Posted by crowbiz on June 1, 2009

Recently, my first-grader was composing sentences for his weekly spelling words, a task he normally completes on his own or with minimal assistance.  One of his words was “pay.”   He jolted me to attention when he shouted out, “Mom, I know one:  ‘Pay up, sucka!'”

After complimenting his quick thinking, I gently suggested he generate a different sentence, one that would be less likely to evoke visions of our household as Little Gangland on the Prairie.  He knew he was being funny, but only a bit.  Mainly, he was echoing similar statements I make when poring over the orders and accounts, sending out the polite but clear emails and reminders about “following through.”  Given my wordy nature, I get more wrapped up in it than I intend, then become exasperated and just blurt something like his sentence above.  At first I felt a wave of embarrassment, like when you hear your toddler saying “How many times have I told you…?” to his stuffed animals.  Then, while steering him toward a more appropriate homework sentence, the shame was replaced with a kind of dark pride that my kid was on my side and could potentially be my mouthpiece.

 

Ma sent us

Ma sent us

Would they go to bat for me?  Would they go to the mat for me?  Would they (cliched sports analogy) if I gave the word?  Maybe I could make use of them one day, not too far off, and send them to do my dirty work.  Well, nothing I do is particularly “dirty,” but I bet they’d love to be charged with some of my business dealings, especially ones that could require weapons.  “Boys!”  I’d holler through teeth clenching a stubby cigar, “Git down here.  I got some work for youse!”  There at our dimly lit table, I’d rifle through some manhandled unpaid invoices and shove a few into each kid’s grubby, waiting hand.  “Take care a’ these, how ’bout?”  They nod because they know what that means:  come home with the money and maintain mama’s approval.  She’s too old to do the face time anymore; gotta protect the old broad;  she gave us life, dint she?

 

Boys loving their mommies is a universal law that makes it good to be queen.  Unless you’re a pretty rotten mother, you’re safe, and I’m sure I haven’t slipped that far yet; it’s a long way to go before your boy-child, whatever his age, rejects you.  If you don’t believe me, refer to Russell Crowe in the film 3:10 to Yuma.  Though bound and seemingly powerless as a captured outlaw, he somehow manages to kill a man who insinuates that his mother’s hygiene and morals are sub-par. “Even bad men love their mamas,” he summarizes.  Unfortunately, their willingness to kill for you does not ensure that they will pick up their wet towels or remember to put their bikes away when told.

 

 

Trouble with a capital G & R - "GRouble"?

Trouble with a capital G & R - "GRouble"?

As anyone can clearly see, these boys do not inspire much fear.  Rather than apologetically fork over the dough, anyone confronted by them is more likely to say, “Honey, tie that shoe.”  Ah ha, but that’s the beauty of it – you’d be sadly mistaken, for their powers are great.  They need no weapons, they require no arm strength, they can dispense with threatening statements.  They just need to show up.

 

 

SonWon:  SonWon is almost constantly happy.  And chatty.  He’s clever and quick, and would likely talk and charm you out of anything he came for.  It’s worth repeating that he’s chatty, because therein lies your downfall.  While inquiring about your day at work, singing, and trying to recount the plot of all seven Harry Potter novels, he’d be able to pick you clean and depart with one of his shoes missing, leaving both of you smiling.  He’s so confident, that soon after his friendly deception, he’ll come back and ask if you’d like to play a game of chess, and he’ll kindly point out when you’re about to make an unwise move.  Unconcerned about being found out, he’ll probably still have your wallet and important papers stuffed into his pocket with candy wrappers and a few bottle caps.  Chat you up a little more.  Just for being so winsome, you’ll want to give him a little something for the candy store, but when you reach for your wallet, it isn’t there, and neither is he.  Wherever he’s gone to will be a mystery, since SonWon forgets everything at approximately 30-second intervals, and the odds are poor that he can find his way home.  But he’ll be happy, whatever the outcome.

SonToo:  If, by looking at SonToo’s hair, you cannot gain insight into his character, you are not very perceptive.  He does not need many words, and the ones he chooses, while not eloquent, cannot fail to be heard.  This is the “Pay up, sucka!” that you ignore at your peril.  I can still pick him up like he’s a monkey in candy-striped undies, but he has the force of an F5 tornado and the subtlety of 20 fingernails down the chalkboard. Don’t even think you’re going to outlast him – just plan on giving in and making your life 72 hours better.  SonToo will chew rocks, split your ears, and sit out in the rain, but he ain’t going away.  During all this, however, he may ask you to adjust his socks, because he just can’t stand feeling that little thready thing on his third toe, and it could lead to a lot of tears.  A laser beam on fine-tune, he’s a meticulous, relentless machine.  With a lot of tears.  And shouting. At 7, he routinely wins at poker against adult men who are not throwing the game. One of his more cheerful ruses involves quickly snatching the enemy’s dinner plate when he/she is up from the seat (a constant occurrence at our meals), and placing it on the chair.  He zips back to his own place and waits for the victim to return and sit on the pot roast and asparagus.  Casseroles are favored for this ploy.

If these two show up together at your front door, it’s been nice knowing you.

 

Misunderstood Ma

Misunderstood Ma

My original intent was to portray myself as a modern day Ma Barker as described above.  Turns out, after a cheap online search that I would scald my students over, the myth done got busted good.  Bible of the Lazy, Wikipedia, tells us that Mrs Barker was no more the engineer of a criminal empire than she was a Supreme Court nominee.  It seems she just happened to be the mother of a couple of gun-slinging, society-defying, ham-handed miscreants, and like most mothers, was not eager to turn her babies over to the law, no matter how stupid or wayward they were.  Time, a lack of instant media outlets, the feds, and a public hungry for lurid romanticism turned Ma into the pistol-packing mother of villainy we think of, when really, she probably just did a crappy job raising her sons. 

 

I can only dream of such a snazzy revisionist misunderstanding, even if I do get shot dead in the end.

Posted in Business & Etsy, Life In the Mod Podge Lane | Tagged: , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Good Luck, New Wife

Posted by crowbiz on May 27, 2009

 

To Have and Hold

To Have and Hold

How children develop their sense of adult institutions is a complicated mystery.  Careers, relationships, mortgages, the ability to choose your own diet and bedtime – kids have an off-kilter take on all of it, and mom and dad, naturally, shoulder most of the blame.  When you have your first baby, you harbor all sorts of laughable if noble ideas about how you’re going to carefully, deftly and properly mold this child.  A few years and/or children later, your parental aspirations sadly degrade from “crafting a fine human being” to “avoiding irrevocable damage and resentment,” and even that can be a challenge.

 

When SonWon was about six, he was philosophizing in the bathroom while Mr Crow showered.  “Dad,” he asked, “If Mom died, would you want to go on dates?”  Mr. Crow, knowing I was within earshot, answered in cue-card fashion, “Why-no-honey!  I-don’t-think-I’d-want-to-go-on-dates.”  Son pondered this for a second and said, “Well, if I had a wife and it died, I’d probably want to get a new one.”  It.  One.

He seems to have had the goldfish model in mind; after flushing the dead wife down the toilet, he’d be free to pursue others.  One imagines the Wife Shelter, where dozens of potential wives are waiting in little fenced cubicles, available for viewing and short supervised walks.  Posted on each pen is the reason for ending up at the shelter and other special instructions:  “owner could not care for,”  “allergic,”  “moving, could not take with,”  “stray,”  “should be only wife in household,”  “separation anxiety,” and for many, “needs meds.”  After choosing one and checking out, a guy could drive home in excited anticipation of the new relationship while the New Wife lies curled up on a blanket in the back seat.

 

Another Option

Another Option

The boys are in that hazy stage where marriage is a far-off, far-out concept that has fringe appeal to other people.  Kind of like people who eat deep-fried animal testicles;  it may be their thing, but it ain’t for me.  They often assert their desire to remain unmarried, which I tell them is fine if that’s how they feel when they grow up.  “I don’t want to have to get married,” they proclaim, “I could be like (so-and-so).”  Inserted are names of various never-married or divorced adult men we know.  That almost all their models of bachelorhood are gay has yet to be addressed, but the good news for them is that marriage is not an inevitable entity like death and taxes.  Yet at other times, they offhandedly refer to their future family, wife and marriage.  Alternately, they claim to want the freedoms of marriagelessness, then in another breath, express pity for those poor guys with no wife – no one to talk to, play with or drive around with.  Bummer!

 

 

SonToo may be reconciling himself.  He’s past the age of wanting to grow up and marry Mom; he’s shifted his nuptial goals to something that’s probably more realistic and socially acceptable:  our dog.  I haven’t the heart to tell him that, given her projected lifespan, he’ll have to be a mere teenage groom to a geriatric bride with a grey muzzle and “leakage” problems.  But it’s a positive sign that he’s warming to the idea of connubial commitment to something.

As far as parent-child talks go, we cover a lot.  While out on a special weekday lunch, my boys began pondering life if Mr. Crow and I were to divorce or if one of us were to die.  Not surprisingly, it was an unpleasant idea for them, but almost worse was the prospect that either parent would remarry.  Like a good sport with sleuthing skills, I managed to elicit plenty out of them, though the way they blared their opinions (for most of the restaurant to hear) made my work easy.  They were particularly concerned about Dad getting himself a new partner.  Sample sentiments included “He’d listen to her instead of us!”,  “He might like her more and take her side!”, and other dad-siphoning, us-against-her anxieties.  Did they envision a dad zombified in the New Wife’s presence, failing his progeny while doing Her evil bidding? It was in all our best interests to prevent this from happening, which brought to mind various “Parent Trap” techniques (she wouldn’t last an hour on one of our camping trips).  SonWon, older and marginally more worldly, articulated each point, while SonToo repeatedly shouted “Yeah!” in between fries. What about me? I queried. What if I married a different man?  Interestingly, despite their objections, they didn’t voice the same worries.  They were not overly vexed about my potential bamboozlement, but viewed the New Husband more as a general and unnecessary intrusion into our lives.  

I got them ice cream cones on the way out.

Posted in Bunkbed Confidential | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »