March 30

OUT OF ORDER

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As I stir a shit stew, I wonder how I got so lucky to be up at five in the morning plunging away at clogged toilet. The brown water lurches dangerously close to moving out of the porcelain bowl and onto me. I might have to burn these clothes before dawn.

There are a vast many different variations of the American Dream. For some reason, being up before dawn churning toilet paper and feces did not seem to be one of those variations. If it is, it’s a very unconventional version of the American Dream and not one I wish to praise as ‘making it’.

I contemplate hanging an ‘OUT OF ORDER’ sign on the door like this is some dive bar and not a three-bedroom family home. I could use the back of one of the many bills strewn across the countertop and a child’s washable marker. I settle for just avoiding the problem. Ignoring it, much like the bills threatening to overflow on to the floor. Some problems just seem best ignored for as long as possible. A clogged toilet falls into this category. At least until someone begins to squeal about needing to use the facilities.

Unless you are still awake from the night before, it seems non-kosher to crack a beer this early in the morning. However, there are many exceptions to the rule. An alcoholic for example, simply ignores this rule and allows every hour to be happy hour. I am close to there, but the thought of squinting through one red eye at a simmering bowl of fecal matter while trying to balance and hold the contents of my stomach in seems less than appealing. Then again, I am up before the sun in a battle against brown water.

An early morning beer never seemed more right than in this moment. In fact, if anything, armed with plastic gloves and plunger this seems the right moment for a case of beer.

I contemplate never fixing the damned thing. I once outdoor-trained a dog, I am sure the whole family could make the adjustment. The neighbors might complain, but we will smile and wave like the friendly people we are.

The scariest part of having a beer when dealing with an out of order bathroom is that the laws of nature will inevitable catch up to me and I will find myself weighing the pros and cons of where to piss. In the sink or in the tub? Peeing in the sink seems a tad grosser, but it isn’t anything I haven’t done in days of debauchery past. Although, I don’t think I could look at the sink the same ever again if I violate it in such a way. Brushing my teeth would become an uncomfortable act. There is no amount of scrubbing I am able to do to clear the filthy image of pissing in the sink from my brain. I won’t even entertain the thought of using the kitchen sink. I could move past the guilt-ridden feelings I’m sure. But, to go from plunging to washing dishes? No, thank you.

The tub, on the other hand, seems equally too much work. I very well can’t urinate in the shower without actually taking a shower. Seems extra wrong to run the shower just to get water washing the evidence of my act away. It’s not something you can properly explain this early in the morning either. There is no way you can exit the bathroom after running the shower and be dry. It raises too much suspicion and only impounds on the guilt.

“I thought you were taking a shower.”

“Just peeing.”

To imagine one of the kids walking in on me standing there beer in one hand, trying to avoid my stream hitting their toys. That seems the type of scarring event eventually recounted in therapy. Or worst, the type of thing they repeat.

“Why are you peeing into the shower?!”

“I LEARNED IT FROM YOU, PA! I LEARNED IT FROM WATCHING YOU!”

The brown water continues to simmer. I assume getting worse by the minute. Maybe with enough ignoring, it will fix itself, like any other failed relationship.

Just like any other failed relationship, I circle back to the porcelain to see how it is doing. See if it has gotten any better without me. A part of me is happy it isn’t any better. A sick part of me now relates the toilet to an ex-girlfriend and smirks over the fact it’s still a shitty situation. then, like any other failed relationship, the guilt sets in and again I want to fix the toilet. Treat it right. Because deep down, I know I am part of the reason it broke in the first place.

There I am, plunging away. Again. Unsure if I am actually fixing anything or just making everything worse. I  start to feel out of my depth. This is clearly a job for a professional. Here I am though. Playing house handyman. I search the internet for solutions The internet is less helpful than the beer. At least the beer is numbing the sense of failure I am feeling.

I have retreated away from the toilet again. It is just better this way. I find I really like the shirt I am wearing and don’t want to burn it because I got some shittastic water on it.

I sloppily write ‘OUT OF ORDER’ on the back of an electric bill. The beer has started to get the better of me and, as added bonus, made me feel a bit better about this whole ordeal. I cannot find any tape or thumbtacks to hang it from the door though. It feel as if I am falling into a whole new predicament. I could close the toilet and gently place the sign on top, but I know full well it will be ignored by children in the morning. Mainly due to the fact they do not yet know how to read. If they did know how to read, I am almost positive they would ignore the sign anyways. That’s just how stubborn they are.

Rummaging through the junk drawer produces no tape or thumbtacks. I do find some screws and nails, but they seem like a bit of overkill for an out of order bathroom sign in a three-bedroom family home. Unless, maybe, the bathroom is out of order forever. Then I will need more than the back of an electric bill and child’s green marker. To condemn something forever would, at the very least, require a wooden sign with ‘OUT OF ORDER’ painted on it.

My search continues to come up fruitless and I have all but settled on sitting in front of the door with my case of beer to ward off anyone who might try to use the cursed and beginning-to-smell bathroom. I could sit there, red-eyed, directing traffic to various trees in the yard.

Before I settle on becoming the lavatory guard, I find a bottle of Elmer’s glue. Maybe not the best way to get my sign hung, but it seems less over the top than hammer and nail. Also, the sun still isn’t up and I am beginning to enjoy the peace and quiet this clogged toilet debacle has afforded me. Maybe this is the American Dream.

I’ve glued my sign to the door and decided to sit in front of it anyways. The kids are still illiterate and will still need to be guided outside. I sit and I wait for the sun to rise so I can call a true handyman. This shit situation clearly calls for a professional. I am just a man with a plunger and a now half case of beer.

Oh, and a difficult decision to make.

In the sink or in the tub?

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March 27

Four Years Strong

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Thursday marks year four of my oldest children’s survival. They continue to weather the storm day to day. From the obnoxious amount of photo taking to the random hugs and kisses.

Raising toddlers is sort of like being in a constant mini war-zone. Raising boy toddlers is like being in a constant war-zone knee deep in urine puddles. Four years into parenting, I wouldn’t necessarily say I am an expert but I am a grizzled and worn out veteran.

From potty training to being shown how big their poops are getting, the trials haven’t always been easy. Yet, I still walk through the baby clothes section. I seek out the select few preemie outfits, remembering a time when even they, the smallest size of clothing before having to revert to clothes designed for small animals, didn’t fit my boys. I look through pictures, remember feeding tubes and a fear of possible breaking the fragile little people I had been blessed with. I remember the tribulations of walking. The stand up, fall down, stand back up, fall again, up, butt, up, face-plant, up, feet moving, down on butt again, sudden sprinting through the house clearly misinterpreting what the term, ‘NO RUNNING IN THE HOUSE’ means.

As we jump off the porch steps, the memories flood in faster and better than any FB daily memory post. It hasn’t always been easy, and I know the future doesn’t get easier. Someday, as my children tell me about people they have crushes on, I will remember the good ol’ days. The time when we rushed to the hospital after finding out their bodies didn’t take too kindly to peanuts. Reaching for the hidden jar of peanut butter, as I hear my kids try to sneak out of the house for the first time. I know there are many trials and tribulations to come.

But, I’ve learned a lot in these four years. There were good days followed by days I wished I had left my kids in baskets at the local fire department’s front door. For every fight I have had to break up, there have been just as many, if not more, cuddles. Every tantrum we had to endure together is only remembered for the warm snuggles that came after.

I often wonder if I am doing this whole parenting thing right. I hold an innate fear my children may someday grow up to hate me. Or worse, somehow hate themselves. I have always had a loose grip on anxiety, overthinking things to the point of utter ridiculousness. In my mind, my children are four, going on fourteen, to me waking up at forty. I worry I may blink too much or too fast and miss the in-between.

I can only hope the dinosaur piñata hidden away will bring them joy on their big day. That they will love their T-ball set and play their Hungry Hungry Hippos game for hours on end. I pray they are still illiterate and don’t read my blog, because it would ruin the surprise.

I sit here, three days away from the big day, looking at twin boys who hold such a powerful bond yet are radically different from one another. I am proud Killian calls a shape a diamond where Nicolas, the more sophisticated child who I have bet money and extra kisses on to succeed, calls it a rhombus. I watch Killian write his name without any help and change my bet to him.

I see two boys who have come into their own identities. They see things different and it is one of the most beautiful things about parenting twins. They will always be twins and have each other, but they are, at the end of the day, their own people. Younger brother in tow, they race through the house, still misinterpreting what, ‘NO RUNNING IN THE HOUSE’ means.

There is no amount of reminiscing or looking forward equal to the now. The little moments we live life to the fullest in. My life lacked a certain level of substance before they came along.

I wish I had wisdom to impart on them on their big day. To be honest, I don’t think I know where to start. Having spent a majority of my life picking the hard road, I am still reminded of where that difficult journey took me. What it gave me.

But, If my four year old’s are suddenly reading at a mommy-ish blogger reading level, the advice I have to give you is this:

No matter what you do in life or the journey you choose, every step still takes you somewhere. If I had taken my steps differently, I wouldn’t have been blessed with you.

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