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Tag Archives: Child Protective Services

When Laundry Day, Dishes Day, and Yardwork Day fall on the same day

The name's Ian. Ian M. Dudley. I like my Diet Tab shaken, not stirred.

Pictures don’t lie. Neither does this one. There IS a reasonable explanation.

Apparently my post of a few weeks ago about using games to get your kids to clean the house didn’t go over too well with a few readers.

Maybe more than a few of you. Child Protective Services wouldn’t tell me exactly how many complaints they got, but it was enough to trigger a warning letter and a visitation.

Nothing causes a pang of worry like reading a letter from CPS saying they have concerns about your children while said children are scrubbing the floors with toothbrushes under the impression that this will landsquid-proof your home.

Such correspondence makes you look around and see your home the way a stranger, a judgmental stranger with the power to take your kids away, might see it.

The interior, no big deal. Nothing a wad of cash thrown at a cleaning service can’t fix.

Yes, that wad of cash was earmarked for this month’s psychiatric medication, but I’m sure I can get by just fine without it for a while.

Turns out, actually, the wad of cash required to get the interior ship-shape is the size of all my money in one big pile.

In other words, EXPensive with a capital E, X, and P.

Leaving no wad of cash to throw at a landscaping service for the exterior.

This is a problem.

Now I don’t know about you, but during the winter, I don’t mow my lawn. The wet trimmings clog the inside of the mower and I have to keep reaching into it to clear them out.

Given that I’m allergic to grass and I’m also quite attached to my fingers (and want to stay that way), this can lead to unpleasant issues.

Besides, the lawn is getting constantly watered during the winter period, which encourages growth. If you come along and start mowing it, the grass is liable to get confused.

Does he want me to grow or not? Why water me if he’s gonna hack me up shortly thereafter? Is it possible we’ve been wrong all this time, and Ian’s a sadist?

That last question might be from the Missus – she talks in her sleep at the same time the blades of grass are conversing with each other. It’s very confusing.

So, during the rainy season, I adopt a live-and-let-live attitude towards the lawn, and maintain that attitude until summer.

Which means that right about when the weather is at its absolute, most unbearably hottest, I have to figure out how to cut down a lawn that looks more like an over-planted corn field bent on world domination than a suburban backyard.

If the corn stalks were twice their normal height and shockingly ignorant about personal space etiquette.

Given that it’s not quite summer yet, my backyard looks (or, I should say, looked) a mess.

Not something to make you all warm and tingly inside when you know CPS is coming over, no matter how many ASMR videos you watched before bed.

So this weekend I had to mow the lawn.

Lose my children, incur the wrath of the Missus, mow the lawn.

Unfortunately, I’d been a little lax on the laundry duty as well, and had been for over a week.

Well over a week.

Well over weeks might be more accurate.

Which means I’d already employed every stitch of clean clothing I owned at the office.

Except for my suit.

The one I was married in.

It hangs (or, I should say, hung) in a hermetically sealed case alongside the Missus’ wedding dress.

The case is made of gilded glass with bronze and gold trimming. We made it into a little shrine. With candles and incense and everything.

Well, until a friend said CPS might frown on that. Then we disposed of the candles and incense. But I drew the line at the spotlights. They stayed in place and on.

I’ve learned from past experience what a thirsty business lawn-mowing is. And being genetically disposed towards sunstroke and fainting, I knew I needed to stay hydrated for the colossal endeavor before me.

But the kitchen sink was full of dirty glasses and plates because I’d gotten a smidge behind on that too.

The only clean glass I could find was the last remaining clean brandy snifter.

I’d already used up all the paper cups in the house, as well as the wine glasses and coffee mugs, to support my Diet Tab soda addiction.

Hell, I’d even started drinking out of my cupped hands because the Missus had hidden that last snifter for an emergency.

Well, now we had an emergency.

On the plus side, I find the snifter lets my Diet Tab breathe, enhancing the flavor.

Why not drink it out of the can, you ask?

As if, heathen. But let me ask you this: just how am I supposed to get my frozen Diet Tab ice cubes into the can, eh?

Eh??

That’s what I thought.

Now I’ve already mentioned my grass allergy. Turns out it’s not just my skin that gets all scaly when in contact with grass. It’s my lungs too. Which is why I wear a respirator when I mow.

And I’m a formerly scrawny, still very white guy who burns all too easily, which means I also wear a hat.

At least it isn’t a fedora, dude.

I looked into a space suit to wear during yard work, but those things are bulky, uncomfortable, and heavy. Not ideal at all for taking care of business around the house.

Expensive, too. Fortunately, CostCo has a very generous return policy.

The CPS letter put me in a bit of a panic, so rather than wait for some laundry, I broke out the last clean outfit I had in my possession and got to work.

Yes, I cracked open the Shrine. May the Missus forgive me.

Which explains the photo at the top of this article.

Now many of you are asking, “Ian, I can see the slacks, but why the jacket with no shirt on underneath? Why not just mow the lawn topless?”

The CPS officials certainly asked that when they showed up, unannounced, a week early.

As I was mowing.

The jacket is to protect my arms and back from the sun. I already told you I burn easily.

And I could hardly go to the store to buy sunscreen dressed like that.

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So You Want (Your Kid) To Be A Superhero

I want the best for my children. What parent doesn’t?

So, as a parent, I am forced to ask myself, what is the best I can provide for my kids that also has a commercial upside for me?

The answer is surprisingly simple and obvious:

Make them superheroes.

They fight crime, stop evildoers, and I make a fortunate on the interview and lecture circuit.

Not to mention the tell-all biographies.

So, easy question to answer.

Not-so-easy answer to implement.

Sure, there’s the Batman model, where you let your young child witness your murder, thus driving him or her to a life of crime-fighting.

I can think of at least one drawback to this approach.

OK, two. In addition to the expensive therapy, this technique requires me to die.

I am way too selfish and self-absorbed to die.

In fact, I plan to avoid shuffling off altogether once I find the Fountain of Youth. Only I’m not so youthful anymore – anyone got any tips on a location for that? I need to find it in a hurry.

But back to the best for my kids.

Dying off and condemning them to years of painful psychiatric treatment just doesn’t strike me as the best approach. Plus this method doesn’t give them any superpowers either.

I tried to get a source of gamma radiation, but that led to an awkward conversation with a bunch of touchy FBI agents.

They show up at your door at like 5am with an armed team and an attitude and start demanding to know why you want something that gives off gamma rays.

Ridiculous!

And then I remembered what my high school gym teacher always used to tell me.

OK, yell at me. Repeatedly. As I tried in vain to climb that damn rope.

“Ya see that? It’s the Ruskies! There they are, just on the horizon! Boy are we in trouble with you lot!”

And, more helpfully, “Build that muscle memory! Then you won’t have to think about it and you’ll just do it!”

Muscle memory.

If I get my kids started early enough, I can train their muscles to make them superheroes.

Which is why I started early with the training program.

One of my kids loves Spiderman, so I’ve got him on the wall crawling regimen.

It’s great. He loves it, never complains. Actually asks for the sessions.

The other one is a Batman freak, but since Batman doesn’t have any superpowers, I put that kid on the flying program.

This is not so great. As he’s ‘flying’ around, all he does is whine about wanting a utility belt and a cable gun.
I don’t have high hopes for that one.

Here is some early test footage:

It's a bird! It's a plane! It's some guy's kids, trying to fly and climb walls.

My method is simple. Get them comfortable with the idea of superpowers
before forcing them to evolve into those superpowers.
That way, no awkward clumsy phases.
With superpowers, you don’t want awkward clumsy phases.

You can bet your top, middle, and bottom dollars that I don’t torment my kids with threats of Ruskies looming on the horizon. That’s so 1980s. I use Al Qaeda – much more topical.

If things continue to go well, I’ll be moving to Stage 2 soon, which involves a catapult for the flying and a visit to the roof of the Empire State Building for the wall climbing.

I firmly believe in the “Sink or Swim” school of, well, schooling.

No, no, please, don’t say anything. Step back. Sit down. You don’t have to thank me. Knowing my kids will grow up to save the world is reward enough.

Well, that and all the money I’ll make cashing in on their fame.

By the way, anyone got a source for good but inexpensive catapults?

And now, a word from our sponsor: me!
 
My books are available!

Marlowe and the Spacewoman:

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Kleencut (FREE!):

So bad it won a Voidy for the next THREE consecutive years (would have been FOUR, but 2012 was a leap year)

 

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Look! Up in the sky! It’s a baby! It’s a lawn mower! It’s a shed!

So this blog post is a little late.

OK, a lot late.

I’d apologize, but I have a really good excuse.

I was ambushed by a shed.

Does it still count as an ambush if you not only knew it was coming, but orchestrated it? What if the shed had no idea? Does it still count as an ambush then?

Because the shed had no idea what it was in for.

Then again, neither did it.

Apparently, to take a shed from here:

Where do baby sheds come from?

Where do baby sheds come from?

to here:

They grow up so fast!

It seems just like yesterday when it was a little baby crate

involves exercising vestigial muscles not used by human beings for tens of thousands of years. As well as every other single muscle in the human body.

You know what happens when a lazy, out-of-shape adult male suddenly forces all those muscles to hop to it?

Pain.

Mind-shattering, fabric-of-Time-and-Space-tearing pain.

Which is why my blog is late. I was literally (and yes, I *know* what literally means, all you Oatmeal fans) unable to type the blog entry. I walked funny for days, once I regained my feet, and not in the awesome-sex good way of walking funny. It was more of the horrible-sex-on-broken-glass-on-the-floor-of-the-shed-I-just-built walking funny.

I don’t recommend it.

More than once.

(No, I don’t roll that way, but how would I know until I tried?)

Wow, how did this blog post about child-rearing get so vulgar?

Yes, child-rearing.

During my immobilized convalescence, I did a lot of thinking.

Thinking about lawn mowing and child-rearing.

And I realized that lawn mowing is WAY easier and safer than raising children.

How so?

Lawn mowers have all sort of safety features these days. Have you tried to injure yourself with a lawn mower lately?

Yourself! Not other people (that’s still really, really easy).

So modern lawn mowers have like a thousand horse power engines to ensure that you can cut down even the most hardened blades of grass, which sounds like an awesome recipe for disaster at first blush. And not just for that pesky Kentucky bluegrass that just doesn’t know when to quit.

Except those spinning blades are housed in these rigid shells that make it really difficult to jam your toes in their path.

Mad Men episodes aside, that’s a crying shame.

Even worse is that they’ve started building in safety features to prevent people who want to hurt themselves with the lawn mower from succeeding.

I’m talking about the power lever. The lever you have to hold down to keep the mower running. The lever that, while held in the ON position, stops anyone except the most skilled contortionist from getting any part of their body inside that housing.

What the hell? It’s a free country. If someone wants to shorten a few fingers or toes with their mower, I say, as long as they’re consenting adults, who are the lawn mower manufactures to tell them no?

And on the other hand (assuming you haven’t lopped it off with your mower), you have child rearing. No rigid housing there, if you exclude the skull and rib cage.

Turns out you can’t exclude them. Skulls and rib cages are part of the package when you get a ripe, fully functional child.

Though the skull is soft in spots for a while. You can make an impression of your initials in those spots…until the first pediatrician visit.

Pediatricians don’t like initials in skulls, I’ve learned, no matter how handy it is at marking a kid as yours.

Whoever is responsible for children needs to start shipping kids with rigid housings for their heads, to protect parents (and the kids of other, litigious parents) from the biting menace.

Children don’t have handy safety levers either.

And NO people, that is not a safety lever on the male children!

Hell, kids have no power ON/OFF lever at all. There are days I’d kill for the peace and quiet an ON/OFF switch for my kids would offer me. Nights too. Long, sleepless nights, struggling to block out the sounds of their crying and wailing…

Turns out, I also recently discovered, pediatricians don’t like it when you try to install ON/OFF switches on your kids.

Man, you can’t do anything with your kids these days! Who, I ask, who is protecting the parents???

These are the thoughts that coursed through my mind as I lay, in utter post-shed-building agony, unable to sleep due to my kids’ screaming as I worried about my late blog post and the lawn I needed to mow before the rains came.

 
2 Comments

Posted by on 6 October 2011 in Angst, Life, Sheds

 

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