A Good Chuckle

A Good Chuckle

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Flavored Shit

My daughter Madelyn came home from school the day before Election Day asking me questions about 2016's set of options for President. I never considered having to explain stuff like this to her while she was still this little, and this year's shit-fest of a campaign cycle really wasn't where I wanted to start. The questions came anyway and as parents we all know that serious questions come when we are least prepared to answer them.

"Kids in my school said Hillary Clinton lit a house on fire and left people to die in it," she said to me, knowing that I was intending to vote for Clinton. "Why would she do that?" She looked at me, grilling me, like I was an accomplice because of where my vote was going. I did suffer a bit of shock in the moment directly following her question at the idea that parents were telling their kids this kind of misinformation. The shock subsided pretty quickly when I considered how many children are indoctrinated into religion at such a young age. Still, it is staggering to think that these kids might demonize my daughter because of nonsense their parents fed them.

"She didn't honey. The police investigated and found that she did not do that, even though lots of people think she did," I tell her. My wife and I exchange cautious glances over the potatoes we are all enjoying. How far is this conversation going to go?

"Is Hillary Clinton a bad person?" She asks me, pressing the issue further.

I take a long sip of my water, really thinking about what to say to her. Because this election, if nothing else, has taught all of us in this country that sometimes you have to eat some shit to avoid eating a lot more - no matter which candidate you support. How do you explain this to your child? When they are learning about choosing options, usually the choices are clear-cut. Ya know? Like, do you choose to pet the happy puppy or the angry dragon? Would you rather have cookies or poop? Okay, I may have made that one up, but you get the point. When we teach kids at young ages about making choices, we teach them in black and white, A or B, good or bad. The choices are just there to allow the children to see that they have them and can select what is usually an easily more favorable option.

Is 8 years old too young to learn this harsh truth about life? That there really are no perfect choices and that every option, no matter how positive it is, also comes with unwanted side effects. Would you like these delicious cookies or would you like some yucky poop? The choice there is pretty clear. But life is more complex than that. Nobody is perfect and we all compromise everyday. The real choices in life are usually between mint-flavored poop or cherry-flavored poop. It is all shit, you just pick a flavor.

"Well, honey," I start, unsure exactly where we are going here, "maybe she is. I don't know. But I think she has better plans for our country than Donald Trump and so that is why I want her to win."

She was staring at me, very interested. She was not phoning this conversation in like she does every time I ask her what she did at school and how her day was. This was not some daily routine, there was genuine interest in her eyes. She wanted to know why her "vote" (they are having a mock-vote at school - because that is reasonable for 2nd graders I guess) was different than so many of her friends. Then she asks me, "Is Donald Trump a bad person?"

"Probably, honey." This was an easy one. Trump's entire campaign was fueled by paranoid rhetoric, and irresponsible generalizations. Not to mention the insults he has been hurling since the days before his name was mentioned in the political arena. Is it responsible for me to tell her that? I don't want her to look at her friends and think that they all like someone who is bad. But he is bad - and what's more is that we MUST make it a point to tell children they should not behave like Trump because it is despicable.

"Yes, he is a bad person," my wife chimes in. My wife has never really taken an interest in politics, but some of the terrible things Trump has said and done has really affected her and caused her to take an interest this time around. Neither of us is a big fan of Hillary, but we are both pretty sure that she will do a better job for the country as a whole than anybody else currently running.

Madelyn continues her interrogation, "Did he kill anybody?"

"I don't think so honey, but he probably has hurt people," I answer. "Most of the things that are bad about Donald Trump are things that we are not going to talk about until you are older. They are grown-up things." How am I supposed to tell her about the allegations of Trump's sexual assault? How do we explain the "grab'em by the pussy" line we have heard played over and over in the media to an 8 year-old? Have other kids in her class heard this? Suddenly, all the NPR reports of "the Trump effect" started rushing into my mind and I became worried about things that she might have heard already, things that I don't want her to hear, things that I think she is still too young to discuss.

"I won't tell anybody! What did he do? I want to know!"

So I thought for a second. Of all the disasters this man's campaign has survived, some of them have to be mild enough to explain to my daughter. "Well, he was very disrespectful to our soldiers a couple of times. He made fun of one soldier because he got captured by the mean guys and they hurt him really bad for years."

My grandfather was a Marine in Vietnam and was also, unfortunately, a POW in that conflict. He still deals with the repercussions of that conflict today, just like most of our soldiers who fought that war, and my daughter loves him very much - he is an American hero. My grandfather was drafted and served multiple tours in Vietnam. The idea that a Presidential candidate would discount my grandfather's service to this country is, honestly, so jarring to me and something that I never expected to come up in such a fashion in a Presidential election.

"Well, if they are both bad, why don't we pick somebody else to be President?" This query is perfect. She is not ready to eat mint or cherry flavored shit. She wants some real ice cream! That's my girl!

The simple conclusion that eludes (whether intentionally or not) millions of Americans every election. The idea that someone outside of the "big two" should be voted for is a growing sentiment, especially this cycle, but never really growing enough to make a difference (unless you listen to the cry babies that blame Nader for Gore's loss in 2000). The idea of a "third party" or third option is not widely accepted in America but instead demonized as frivolous and a "waste of a vote" that will only help/hurt [insert either candidate here].

But before I could reply, she continued, "I don't want a mean guy to be President and do mean things like war." The term 'mean guy' is how my kids identify all antagonists, this was not directed at Trump specifically.

That's when it dawned on me. My daughter is not just an 8 year-old. She is MY 8 year-old. She and I share some deep beliefs and values just by the nature of how we live in my house. She knows that I have friends in the military. She refers to them as "knights" like the medieval warriors from history (and, more recently, from stories that she enjoys).

"Well honey, that is the sad part. We don't know what any of these people are going to do until they get elected. Honestly, it is pretty scary sometimes. Even for grown-ups. Life isn't usually about making easy choices. It is about making hard choices. It's about trying to find the good in the bad. Sometimes that is just how it is."

It made me sad to have to break this truth to her. As parents, we try to shield our children from the parts of reality that are unpleasant until we feel they are ready to understand and appreciate them. We opt for waiting for "the right time." Maybe there is no right time. Or maybe the right time is when your child presses you for the truth. I like to be honest with my kids about everything that I can be honest with them about (Santa, obviously, excluded), but there are some things they are too young to hear when they are in elementary school.

And then I started to wonder, while we all quietly ate dinner, what has she heard at school? Do these children watch Trump at home? We don't have cable in my house, so our family was shielded from Trump's media blitz over the past year. But others do have cable. Are there kids in my daughter's school that are talking about building walls? Are they mocking disabled children like Trump mocked Serge Kovaleski?

Madelyn sensed the sadness in my last reply, which hung in the silence as we ate, and decided she was going to change it. "When I grow up, I'm gonna be President. And I'm gonna stop all the wars and give everyone ponies!"

I said, "There is a candidate that wants to do that now, honey. His name is Vermin Supreme."

She recoiled in disgust, "That's a weird name."

"It sure is, dear. Absolutely. And that's the drawback. You can vote for him if you want a free pony, but his name is still gonna be Vermin Supreme."

No matter who wins this election, I hope that our country can come together for the sake of our children and their future. There is a lot of doomsday rhetoric circulating around this cycle, moreso than I remember for an election cycle since I started paying attention back in 2000. The truth is, our actions today can and do directly impact how our children will get to live and how their children will get to live. Vote and act responsibly, no matter who you choose. Because when it comes down to it, today, we are all eating a shit sandwich - whether you believe it or not, we are. Hopefully one day, down the road, all of our children will have a much better menu.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Bad Words


"Seriously?" My girlfriend shakes her head at me from the kitchen table, "You mean 'Sugar', right?" 

Most mornings something like this follows as I struggle to regain my balance before completely tripping over one of my three cats, the kitty hit squad that is constantly making attempts at my life by navigating between my feet while I walk. 

All three of my kids are sitting at the table finishing up breakfast, my youngest is in her high chair, but they all look over at me after today's particular near-death experience to see the big deal. As a parent, you try not to say words that society deems bad words out of fear that your children will repeat them in public and cast a shadow of doubt on your parenting. I don't really subscribe to this concept, but I play along as best I can for my girlfriend, who would be mortified if any of our children said some of the things that I exclaim in that brief moment of panic when I trip over a cat. 

Smiling I play ball, "Yes. Sugar!" I get away from the cat-trip with my life intact for another morning, extending my undefeated streak another day and also testing my patience for these free-loading feline conspirators who take daily shots at my life. I stare at the most recent perpetrator, Monster Truck (my son named him), and he stares back at me, daring me to continue walking. I make my way into my bedroom very carefully and advance over to my video game console to turn it on. It is time to play.

I fire up Call of Duty, an arcade style, fast-paced combat game. Not my favorite, but if a few of my friends are online playing, I'll jump in a game with them. Sometimes it is better to play a mediocre game with a group of friends than it is to play an awesome game by yourself. Sometimes.

The match starts and I sprint out to the middle of the map, look down my sights, and I am immediately blown up by a well placed grenade. "Shit!" I respawn in the same place where I started the match and I move cautiously to the place where I exploded a few seconds earlier. BOOM! A sniper takes me down. "God damn one-shotting son of a bitch!" I holler out in frustration. I respawn. This time I don't even have a chance to move, I am killed immediately upon spawning. "WHAT THE F -"

"What game are you playing Daddy?" 

As I respawn this time, it comes to my attention that my son is watching me play. He quietly slipped into the room at some point, unbeknownst to me and now his mom enters the room as well. "It's a scary game buddy. You don't want to watch this one."  

BOOM! I am mowed down on screen as I explain this to him, the player that did it is crouching and standing rapidly, a perverse joke that increases my already boiling aggravation. 

This time when I respawn, nobody is around me. I crouch down and make my way to a corner that looks safe enough for the moment. I turn around and see that my girlfriend is making the bed and my son is still watching me play. "Go ahead buddy, head back out to -" BOOM! I get hit with a head shot, a loud 'ding!' sounds off letting me know that my helmet was of no use at all and I can't suppress the urge to growl angrily.

My son speaks up in my defense, "God damn one-shotting son of a bitch!" He yells, fixing a scowl at the TV. My girlfriend snaps her head around and fixes a scowl at me. 

"Thanks buddy," I say, patting my son on the head for defending me from the tyranny of the 10 year-olds that make up the team that is slaying me unmercifully. "I'm gonna switch games for a bit," I announce. I stand up and make my way to the console to swap games out for something a little more appropriate for my audience and - 

BOOM! I collapse in a disorganized heap, my face thuds off of the floor causing instant pain and rage. "Monster Truck you stupid son of a - "

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Rights and Rights and Writes

My oldest child started kindergarten at the beginning of this school semester and the curriculum is surprising! After receiving her numerous, gigantic workbooks and textbooks, I thought back to when I was in kindergarten and what I learned back then. I am absolutely positive that nothing I was taught in kindergarten involved the difference between rights and responsibilities. Yet this is exactly what my daughter is learning in Social Studies.

"Rights are things that you are allowed to do by law. Like," I try to search for some examples, "breathing clean air. You have a right to breathe. You also have a right to drink clean water. And to speak your mind."

"What does it mean to speak my mind?" she asks me. Good, she is actually listening to me.

"Speaking your mind is when you say how you are feeling. You know when you come up to me and tell me that you want chocolate, for example. You have a right to do that, right?"

"I have a right?" she asks.

"Right," I reply hastily, realizing immediately afterward that this choice of words could probably set me back 10 minutes or so.


"I mean, correct. Yes, honey, you have rights."

"I have rights? Ooooh cool!" Laughing, she calls out to her brother across the room, "I have rights!" He was working on a puzzle and couldn't be bothered about the benefits of citizenship his sister was discovering.

She gets it, good to go, right? Right?

"Okay, so," I was hunting for verification that she understood, "can you explain to me what a right is?"

She looked at me with her head sort of tilted and she had her face squinted up so as to suggest she were really thinking hard about it. After a second, which at the time I just figured was for dramatic effect, she pointed her left hand to her right arm and lifted her right arm, suggesting this was the answer to my question.

I didn't immediately understand. She was pointing at her arm and looking at me expectantly. "What are you doing?" I asked her. I was not comprehending.

"Right, right!" She exclaimed and pointed to her right arm more excitedly than before. "This is my right!"

"Yes honey, that is your right arm. But that isn't the kind of rights that I am talking about. Remember what we just went over? You have a right to speak your mind, breathe clean air, right?"

"Right!" she said again, she was still raising and pointing to her right arm. "Right! My rights!"

I began to feel deeply troubled that either my daughter had evolved into an expert troll overnight or I wasn't getting through to her. "No, Honey. Not that right. That's your right arm."

"Yeah Dad, my right!"

"I know Honey, that is right. That's your right, but it isn't the right that we are talking about right now. Like the right to eat chocolate, right?"

"Oh." She says, simply, and puts her arm back down to her side. "I have a right to eat chocolate?"

"Maybe after dinner. Look. Focus. Can you explain to me what rights are so that we can move forward with today's lesson?" I asked, the gentleness in my voice began to give way to frustration a little bit.

She thought for a moment again, exactly the same as before, and then used her right arm to mime out the motion of writing words on the paper in front of her, excitedly making noises expecting confirmation that this was, indeed, the answer to my question, "Hmm? Hmm? Hmm?"

I sighed audibly, "That is write like write a word. Not right like a right to eat chocolate. Think about what we are working on right now, alright?"

"Right!" she laughs.

"Ugh..." I growled miserably. I called out to my girlfriend, who came running into the room. "Can you help me teach her this one?"

"Right now?" she asks, unaware of the semantic dilemma I have been sorting out.

"Right!" My daughter continues to laugh.

"We're talking about rights and responsibilities. She gets the responsibilities, but we are stuck on rights right now."

"Rights!" My daughter says again.

My girlfriend looked at me like I was nuts, "She already knows this one. You're on last week's lesson."

Expert troll it is.

In The Woods Entertainment
Got Fiction? Got Funny? Got Blog? Send all submissions to ManagerInTheWoods@gmail.com for publishing consideration.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

A Night On The Boardwalk - A Week At The Beach Series

A trip to the beach is never complete without a night on the boardwalk. In our family, it is just about every night that we are on vacation. A long day on vacation typically involves roasting in the sun on the beach and in the water, then a disorganized retreat back to the house for a shower and dinner before we head out to the boardwalk.

Walking along the boards after sunset is a unique experience, even as compared to the very same boardwalk during the day. Though you can't see them, you can hear the ocean heave its waves onto the shore not far off in the night. The smell of salt water surfs the cool ocean breeze to your nostrils. Store fronts are all lit up and many different types of music can be heard as you pass by one store to the next. There is a lot of sensory stimulation for the kids - a wonderland of lights, music, and excitement.

As a parent, some of the pleasure in a night on the boardwalk is derived from the humorous observations one can make - the kind of humor that is totally lost on the kids. Seeing other parents with misery written all over their entire demeanor dragging screaming children away from an arcade. Or catching a glimpse of the exasperated adults who are trying desperately to negotiate the five dollar ice cream cones into their children's mouths and failing horribly, ice cream decorating unexpecting attire. And these are just the normal observations. If you are especially vigilant you can find some really absurd shit to laugh at.

So we're on the boardwalk, my girlfriend and I and all three of our kids (my youngest tucked into a stroller). "Hey, lets get some fries," I suggest. A day in the water always sets me up for a seek-and-destroy-the-junk-food appetite in the evening.

My kids get all giddy and start hopping up and down, "Oooh! French fries! French fries!"

We veer out of the naturally formed lane of pedestrian/stroller traffic and situate into the unnaturally long line for french fries. I squint my eyes, working them to the absolute brink of their functionality to see the menu from our position in line, approximately eight clicks off from the service counter. "Can you see the prices for anything?"

My girlfriend gets out her binoculars, "Not really. But they have crab fries!"

"Oh, nice!"

My daughter starts up immediately. "Ahhh! Crabs!" She sticks her arms up and clicks her fingers together as some mock pinchers with a pained look of unreasonable fear on her face. Not a day has gone by on this vacation without someone saying the word "crab" and my daughter losing her shit over it entirely.

A few days later we get to the service counter to place our order. "Hello, we'll take one bucket of french fries and two buckets of crab fries please."

The Eastern European teenager behind the counter smiles and nods at me, "Is that all?"

I affirm that it is and he sets out on his way to get my buckets of overpriced potatoes. Taking a deep breath, I smile at my kids who are standing in line patiently waiting for their fries.

As a parent of three, anytime I have all of my kids out in public I feel a heightened sense of awareness. If you have kids, then you know what I mean. You see everything all at once, everywhere. The years of telling your children that you have eyes in the back of your head actually becomes reality at some point and it is no more apparent to you than when you have your whole family out in a crowded public area. Sometimes I can see things BEFORE they happen.

And then there are some things that you could never have seen coming if you had all of your life to think on it.

A shriek of terror immediately attracts the attention of my entire clan as we grow old in line. A woman of girth whose existence looks to have originated before the second world war miscalculates a step and begins a slow, painful fall to the wooden planks we are all standing on. The sun rose and set again by the time she reached the end of her fall and we all stood there, slack-jawed, in complete shock and yet still suspicious of what just transpired. I was waiting for Ashton Kutcher to appear from behind a trash can laughing at us.

When she eventually hit the ground, two things happened simultaneously: she dropped a bag that spilled fancy looking sea shells out on the boardwalk in front of my family and I and she unleashed flatulence at such a degree as may never have been executed before. If I could extract the memory of this sound from my mind, I would loop it on repeat every Halloween - a sound that seemed to have been the spawn of such auditory delicacies as when you try to extract your foot from mud and a zipper.

After testing the boardwalk to ensure structural integrity, I cautiously walked over to help her up and make sure she is okay. A couple of other people did as well (after recovering from the immediate shock of the travesty we all just were witnesses to). My kids see that I am helping this lady to her feet and they want to help her as well, so they start picking up all of her sea shells and putting them back in the bag from which they spilled.

My daughter is holding onto a sea shell she finds particularly beautiful. "Daddy, look at this shell! Isn't it pretty?"

The victim (or aggressor?) of the catastrophic fall/fart combination looks over at my daughter and says, "That is called a 'Hermit Crab' dear."

And at that very moment, the crab came out of his shell, sticking his weird extremities out onto my daughter's hand.


We'll be taking those fries "to-go". 

In The Woods Entertainment
Got Fiction? Got Funny? Got Blog? Send all submissions to ManagerInTheWoods@gmail.com for publishing consideration.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Sand Castle - A Week At The Beach Series

"Whoa, awesome sand castle Dad!" Said none of my kids ever. My knowledge and skill with building sand castles begins and ends with the ingredients - sand, water, a shovel, and buckets. I am Tim "The Tool Man" Taylor in the sand castle world. 

There are some people who show up at the beach with a backpack of sand castle crafting goodies and deliver awe-inspiring results - castles as great as any of the mightiest kingdoms throughout history. I, on the other hand, show up with dollar store buckets, two plastic shovels, a buzz and a dream. 

"Why do we even need a moat Daddy? I think that may be a little much," my oldest daughter says to me as she finishes up what will soon be the northeast corner of the castle. Building a sand castle is always her idea. If it were up to my son, the activity would resemble what he is presently doing - running towards the ocean, calling it names ("The Ocean's a Dopey! The Ocean's a Dopey!"), and running away from the waves as they attempt to restore honor to the ocean whose great name was just sullied on it's very own shore!

"Well Sweety, we have to defend ourselves from the barbarians somehow," I reply, "and I am not sure if we can make any catapults with the resources we have available to us right now!" 

"Will the moat protect us from crabs?" Her concern, though based on a ludicrous fear of crabs, is much more realistic than my concept of defending against barbarians. Or is it?

"It sure will. Unless they are barbarian crabs," I reply and we both laugh.

Taking a look at our work, I am impressed! Now that my daughter is 5 years old, she has turned my years of disaster into a how-to-not-do-it and overcome the genetic disposition to fail at sand castles. What she has expertly crafted is no less than one of the brilliant creations I spoke of earlier. A castle fit for a princess with a moat to protect her city.

"Can we raise an army Daddy? With knights and wizards? And I can be the princess!" Joy escapes her through giggles and a smile brighter than the sun we are baking in.

Unable to restrain my laughter, I am filled with that special pride you get as a parent when you see something in your child that you know, without a doubt, is your own fault (sorry I am such a dork Honey). I continue, "We sure can! Can you find anybody you would want to be in your army? Maybe some of your cousins?"

She begins to survey the beach. All sorts of body sizes, shapes, and colors are performing various beach activities all around us and I am very curious how she will choose her conscriptions. 

This momentary pause in conversation is interupted by the utmost pandemonium; my son the barbarian charges the castle, sunlight as war paint on his face, and he kicks right through it, screaming.

Caught totally off guard by the attack I had no time to protect my eyes and thus ended up temporarily blinded by castle debris. I reach out for where a towel should be and find one, wipe my face off and squint through the pain. My daughter, much to my astonishment, is NOT crying. She is, however, glaring at me unsympathetic to my plight.

"Your moat didn't work Daddy."

I guess next year we'll build a catapult. 

In The Woods Entertainment
Twitter @Matt_InTheWoods

Got Fiction? Got Funny? Got Blog? Send all submissions to ManagerInTheWoods@gmail.com for publishing consideration.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Watching Jaws - A Week At The Beach Series

"No! I'm not tired! I don't want to go to bed!"

Anybody with kids is familiar with this obstacle. After a long day in the sun on the beach, playing in the water and building sand castles (or trying to if you can call it that), and then a long night walking the boardwalk, eating ice cream, and watching the bizarre nonsense that happens at night on the board walk - musicians, dancers, and pirates blowing bubbles (yes, really) we get back to the house and the kids are exhausted.

They don't want to go to bed of course because they don't believe that they're tired! They think bedtime is some sort of tyrannical plan to put a cap on the fun they can have in a day and they are determined to maximize their fun always. 

"You're not tired buddy?" I ask my son. He's laying on the couch next to me, snuggled up with his blanket and sucking his thumb, his eyes staying shut a little longer than normal with every blink. 

Then his big sister weighs in on the situation. "I'm a little tired but I'm not ready for bedtime yet."

Just then the movie Jaws returns from commercial break. "Okay, you guys want to watch a scary movie with me?" 

My son sits up and is immediately interested, "Oooh, oooh, scary movie, scary movie!" He is a Goosebumps enthusiast.

"Well, what is it about?" My daughter is always careful to make sure that she is getting the absolute best deal available to her - and she doesn't like scary movies. She doesn't want to go to bed, so now she needs more details to weigh her options and make her decision. 

I explain the premise ("These men try to stop this shark from eating everybody") and my daughter agrees to hang out and watch - she isn't afraid of sharks (it's not like they have claws), she is afraid of crabs (because of their claws). The movie is most of the way through already and the three men are on the boat, shooting whatever that thing was that they shot to attach the barrels to Jaws. 

"Are those men pirates, Daddy?" My son asks.

"No!" my daughter responds quickly, "They can't be pirates because they don't have a pirate flag on that boat."

And then - Jaws wrecks the boat! The captain slides down the sinking ship right into the mouth of Jaws! At first it looks to me like Jaws has the man by his leg and having not seen this movie for quite some time I forgot whether or not Jaws eats this man.

This immediate action breaks up the suspense and my daughter is startled, "Ahhh! Is that man dead?" She covers her eyes. 

"I don't think he's dead Honey, it looks like the shark is just eating his leg for now." Just as I say that, a better camera angle shows that Jaws has this man by the waist, not the leg like I had thought. "Oh never mind Honey, yes, it's all over for that man."

The movie plays out to the end and I ask my kids whether or not they liked it (and whether or not they understood how sharks could be scary even without claws).

My son leads out, "I liked it except for when the shark ate that man who was almost a pirate."

My daughter agrees with him and adds, "I'm glad there weren't any crabs in it though," she says as she imitates a crab pinching the air.

Jaws 2 starts up on the screen. "Okay guys, time to brush your teeth and get ready for bed. You don't want to watch too many scary stories about sharks if you are going to the beach tomorrow!"

"It's just a story Daddy," my son reminds me.

Their immediate protest of bedtime coupled with the fact that they are on vacation too forces me to the bargaining table. "You guys go brush your teeth and get your jammies on, and then we'll see where we go from there."

So they oblige, we get them ready for bed and return to the living room where Jaws 2 has continued playing undisturbed. It is at the scene with two women on the water, one is driving a boat and the other is water-skiing behind said boat. All of a sudden the woman water-skiing disappears.

"Okay guys, you can hang out and watch the shark eat one more person, but then it is bed time, deal?" This deal works in my favor because they didn't notice the water-skiing woman getting pulled under the water like I did and I am expecting Jaws to make quick work of her so I can ship the youngsters to bed.

"Okay!" They both shout merrily, happy to be given another reprieve from bedtime. They scurry over to the couch where they were sitting for the first movie. But no trace of the water-skier. 

Jaws attacks the boat (surprise, surprise)! He sticks his snout out of the water trying to get his chomp on and the woman in the boat dumps what appears to be gasoline all over him and then BOOM! The whole thing explodes! The shark's face is on fire and the boat with the woman in it (complete with said woman) is charred up and destroyed.

"Okay guys, that's a wrap. Bed time," and I get up to lead them to their rooms. I was banking on the water-skier but settling for the driver.

My daughter speaks up quickly. "No Daddy, you said we can watch the shark eat one more person. He didn't eat that woman, she blowed up."

She got me on a technicality. So I sat back down. They both fell asleep on the couch shortly after.

Twitter @Matt_InTheWoods

Got Fiction? Got Funny? Got Blog? Send all submissions to ManagerInTheWoods@gmail.com for publishing consideration.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Plant Fingers

Another beautiful day in the mountains of Pennsylvania so naturally I have my oldest two kids outside playing, my oldest daughter and my son. They are running through the wooded parts of the yard going on an imaginary adventure and looking for "roley-poley" bugs underneath rocks. They point all of their findings out to me - ant colonies under the rocks, butterflies fluttering around, caterpillars eating leaves.

All of a sudden my daughter comes completely unglued. She yells, huffs and puffs, and then runs straight over to where I am sitting on the front deck. "Daddy, daddy, some buggy was bothering me when I was picking these flowers!" She cries and she tosses a handful of ferns on the deck beside me. My two oldest always liked to pick plants and flowers.

"What kind of bug? Where is it?" I ask her.

She calms down immediately, takes a look back at the place in the woods she was just picking ferns at and shakes her head, as though she caught a chill and was shaking it out. "Actually Dad, I don't think it was a buggy now, I think it was the plants brushing against me."

"You're probably right, Sweety. But let me check anyway." I check her out, no bugs on her anywhere. I tell her so and she smiles. "You know Honey, plants are alive just like you and me."

"Plants are alive? For real?" She asks in amazement at this new concept.

"Yes, for real Sweety."

"Can they be my friends?" she asks me.

"They sure can! They might be boring friends, but they'll always be down to hang out with you," I tell her with a smile. My inner hippy is so proud of her for wanting to befriend the plants.

She smiles wide and giggles, then scoots back out into the woods to continue playing. A little time passes by, maybe a half an hour or so and the kids are still exploring the woods in front of our house. They walk across a "secret passage" and into a clearing dead center in front of my line of vision before they split ways and my son ducks back into the woods.

My daughter stays in the clearing in front of me, examining a particular plant she found interesting, a short but wide bush that is presently no taller than the waist of a normal sized adult. She reaches out and touches a leaf on the plant, and gently strokes it as though it were a pet cat. All of a sudden she plucks a leaf from the branch it was on!

As she plucks the leaf I squeal out, "Ouch!" in a cartoon sort of voice.

My daughter stands straight up and yells once, so loud that I consider calling the police on myself! Then she looks at the plant and yells, then the leaf and yells, and back to the plant again, panic really setting in, and then she looks at me and goes completely insane. She runs at me as fast as she possible can, which is not that fast at all (my daughter sort of flutters when she runs) "Waaaaaaah!" Inconsolable, she reaches me and jumps into my outstretched arms.

"Honey, Honey, calm down! It's okay!" I say to her.

"That plant said 'Ouch!' That plant said 'Ouch!'  IT'S ALIVE! WAAAAAAAAAAAAH!"

"That was me Sweety, the plant doesn't talk. I'm the one who said 'Ouch', relax."

Her face contorts in the most accusing look she can give me while still maintaining a tear flow consistent with the great waterfalls of our world. "Why would you do that?!"

At this I couldn't help but laugh. She looked so offended and upset - a consequence I had not considered when I pulled my little prank. "You plucked one of that plant's leaves. What if one of your friends came up to you and pulled one of your fingers off? Wouldn't it hurt?"

My point set in and she slowly came to a calmer state, her choppy and upset breathing winding down back to normal. She was really pondering this concept that I posed to her. "So leaves are fingers on plants?"

Unsure of the science behind the whole thing at this point, I reply slowly, "Kind of."

She screams right in my face. Like, I can smell her breath as she wails directly into my gaze, that is how close she is to me. This outburst caught me off guard and I shook, startled.

"Whoa whoa, what is wrong Honey?!"


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