5 For Friday: Go Ask Daddy about microwave politics, spider webs and how that chicken got to the dinner table without the luxury of a head.

photo credit: leg0fenris via photopin cc
photo credit: leg0fenris via photopin cc

I get all kinds of questions from my awesome kids about this wonderful world we live in.

GAD GRAPHICI love it. I suspect the girls are getting a little gun-shy. Grace, the kid who used to turn to me and say “put *that* in your blog, daddy,” now groans a little as she watches me thumb her questions into my mobile phone (so I don’t forget to blog about them.)

I’ve worked on waiting until the girls are on to their next adventure before typing their questions into note mode on my phone.

So far, so good.

Here’s what they asked this time:

1. Why is it when I microwave two stuffed shells for the same amount of time as three, they get hotter?

Ah, let’s get started right away with food.

I’ve vowed to avoid political references in any of my blogs this week and next.

I think there’s a Republican parable out there about two stuffed shells vs. three stuff shells, and how the microwave represents the government, and the actual waves represent welfare, and the stuffed shells represent welfare-eligible recipients.

I’ve vowed to avoid political references in any of my blogs this week and next.

But if I weren’t avoiding them, let’s just say if it were Romney noodles, it’d be best to heat two at a time, and get that third one out of the microwave all together, with help from loop holes in the microwave’s wattage.

And let’s just say if you were heating Obama rolls, it’d be best to actually put two more in the microwave and add more time to the timer, and if you can, add two more after that.

And that’s not political at all. It’s just that if you have fewer items in the microwave, you have less stuff for the actual microwaves to heat, so it goes faster and is more efficient, because the shells aren’t as dependent.

Even if the shells are stuffed with government cheese.

My name is Eli Pacheco and I approved this message.

2. Why don’t ants make their piles in the middle of the sidewalk?

Can you imagine getting an ant bite from a creature with jaws strong enough to rip up concrete?

Grace, you’re allergic to ant bites. Can you imagine getting one from a creature with jaws strong enough to rip up concrete? Let’s be happy they can’t chew through the sidewalk.

Ants have this great reputation of being able to carry several times their weight. It’d be like having 600 linebackers living among you, only the ant would make a linebacker look like a kicker.

Carpenter ants, though, have been known to chew through brick. Yeah, brick! All that dirt you see piled up on an ant hill is what they’ve moved out to create a complex network of tunnels, chambers, storage units, and burial chambers.

Ants out west probably make tornado shelters, and I heard of an ant pile in Cabarrus County that had a man cave, an RV park and a dirt track in it, too.

Ants are capable of a great many things, and live in a complex society. Why build your fortress on the sidewalk where some dumb human on an i-Phone is going to trample you?

3. Do all writing spiders make zigzags in the middle of their webs?

Not all of them. I’m pretty sure writing spiders in Asia and the Arabic world have very different patterns. I think they write right to left, too. Don’t quote me on that.

The English call writing spiders wasp spiders.

Makes me wonder if Kentucky writing spiders do their writing in blue.

(Actually, the English call them wasp spiders. I presume because they look kind of like a wasp, and not because they’re white anglo-saxon protestants. Maybe for my next blog you’ll ask why white anglo-saxon protestants make zigzag lines in their webs.)

Many people are freaked out over writing spiders, because they’re so big, and sport Pittsburgh Steelers colors. They’re pretty docile, though. Ever seen one upset? They get the bum rap with superstitions, too.

Some people think if a writing spider writes your name, you’ll die. Or, if one sees your teeth, they’ll fall out. Writing spiders are bad luck to no one, though, unless you count the Pittsburgh Pirates, who also share their colors.

Know how you have to scribble with a pen to get the ink to start flowing?

I suspect this is the case with writing spiders. They have to get their butts warmed up to write with web. Probably, though, they’ve learned to put the zigzags in so that people on their i-Phone will hopefully look up in time to see the web before they walk through it.

4. Why does it rain?

Rainy days are God’s way of telling Rockies pitchers, “you’re still my children. We’ll save the shelling you’re expecting until tomorrow. Now go play cards in the clubhouse.”

To preserve Rockies pitching, of course. Rainy days are God’s way of telling Rockies pitchers, “you’re still my children. We’ll save the shelling you’re expecting until tomorrow. Now go play cards in the clubhouse.”

Rain is just the most impressive part of a process that includes words like “evaporation” and “condensation.”

I think you all have made the “chart” in school – you know, the one with the cotton balls glued to the page, and the note cards explaining the way water evaporates, rises, becomes clouds until it’s too heavy, then comes pouring down onto the earth again, in the form of sprinkles, thunderstorms or catastrophic news makers named Katrina and Sandy.

It’s also what kicks up the red mud in Carolina to make your soccer socks fun to wash.

It’s a good thing we have Amy Aaronson to give us good weather reports.

5. When do they kill the chickens? When they’re asleep?

Oh, Grace. It was a mistake to let you sit on the counter while I fixed dinner.

Where’s the chicken’s head, dad? Where are the chicken’s guts, dad? When will dinner be ready, dad?

I could see the questions bounding about in that 8-year-old mind. Where’s the chicken’s head, dad? Where are the chicken’s guts, dad? When will dinner be ready, dad?

One of my cousins was told at a young age that the fish he ate was actually “sea chicken,” so he wouldn’t freak out (he had pet fish.) I thought about telling you a softened version of this process.

I felt I somehow guarded you against the barbaric practices of a society still bent on carnivorous living (of which I’m a proud member) but who does so without the element of the struggle of the hunt.

I contemplated feeding you tales of chickens dying of old age, or some sort of volunteer program, or somehow relating it to a Hunger Games type of system, then I realized you watched “Chipwrecked” while the rest of us saw “Hunger Games” at the dollar theater.

I’m not sure Alvin and the Chipmunks have an adequate story line for this lesson.

For us, this was an important moment. What 8-year-old conscientiously objects to chicken nuggets? What would you eat when the rest of us ate “grown-up” stuff?

The truth I chose to tell you about chickens involved arguable humane treatment, and what I sensed would be a loss of innocence, a nightmare or two, and maybe a budding existence as a vegetarian.

Despite your sisters’ likely cheers upon hearing you’d given up chicken, therefore rendering more wings for them at the next sitting, I chose to tell you a version of the truth that involved quick death.

It involved arguable humane treatment, and what I sensed would be a loss of innocence, a nightmare or two, and maybe a budding existence as a vegetarian.

“Dad,” you said, and I listened intently.

“Can I have a leg and a wing? No, two wings!”

Atta girl, Grace. And I promise not to microwave them, even.

chickens quote

Sometimes, Fairness is Overrated

fairness-lede
photo credit: taymtaym OKIMG_1015 via photopin (license)

I hope I’m many things as a coach.

Energetic. Understanding. Compassionate. Unfair. You heard me. Unfair. Because when I hear those words during practice, from the kids I love and teach and protect … “Coach, this isn’t fair!

I know the learning’s begun.

In my practices, we play small-sided games. Three against three. Four against four. No scrimmages. No full-field soccer. We set up little goals on the corners of the field, or balance a soccer ball on a cone, or three balls on three cones.

Continue reading “Sometimes, Fairness is Overrated”

How’s a dad tell how he’s doing? Only time will tell.

photo credit: Stéfan via photopin cc
photo credit: Stéfan via photopin cc

I’m a dad. I’m a coach. I’m many other things – some happy, some comical, some up for debate – but those two constants, dad and coach, really hold all strings attached to the hands typing this.

Time means something different to me, as a dad. I’m not always in a rush. That’s not to say my schedule isn’t next to impossible or that I’m the only guy in town living this life. It’s not because of hopeless resignation, either.

I’m not always on time, but I’m not always late.

I don’t always have a good excuse, and I don’t always keep my cool, but I’d say I’m ice 85 percent of the time.

Continue reading “How’s a dad tell how he’s doing? Only time will tell.”

5 for Friday: 👩‍🏫 Things teachers have said to me I’ll never forget

photo credit: Kalexanderson via photopin cc
photo credit: Kalexanderson via photopin cc

Teachers. Who’s going to build the long overdue hall of fame for you?

Your encouragement leads to new discoveries. To finding inner strength. To believe. Often, in ourselves. Teachers, your words resound in us, regardless of whether we acknowledge it.

Sometimes, wisdom is in your simple honesty.

Whether it’s a plea to realize our potential, pull away from poisonous peer groups, or, for the love of the Louisiana Purchase, turn in an assignment on time, it’s not always the kind and loving words that shape us. And that’s okay.

Continue reading “5 for Friday: 👩‍🏫 Things teachers have said to me I’ll never forget”

5 for Friday: Ways I’m an enigma wrapped in a contradiction

photo credit: Cellblog1138 via photopin cc
photo credit: Cellblog1138 via photopin cc

They should have written a song about me.

You know, like me being like Cleopatra, Joan of Arc or Aphrodite. And then kinda like Roseanne Barr, Sarah Palin and Kate Gosselin. (They never seem to write songs about dudes in history, do they?)

Dads are always saying “do as I say, not as I do,” but I won’t whitewash my innate contradictions that way.

I am complex. Whether it’s onion preferences or talk radio habits or sports experience, I am the exception to my own rules. There’s nothing wrong with that. Even Kate Gosselin has a little Aphrodite in her.

Continue reading “5 for Friday: Ways I’m an enigma wrapped in a contradiction”

🚸 What a chore: My Kids Have it Easy

photo credit: Kalexanderson via photopin cc
photo credit: Kalexanderson via photopin cc

Do kids still do chores?

I mean, in the age of the iPod, iPad, and “I-don’t-really-have-to-make-my-bed,-do-I?” Are chores a thing of the past? My kids don’t have one of those nifty middle-class-America-family charts on the fridge, to outline which duties each kid is to perform.

Mackenzie clears the table, Cooper takes out the trash, Octavio makes the tortillas.

They can sign up on their own for household tasks – loading/unloading dishwasher, cleaning the cat’s room, folding laundry. But it’s a volunteer program, not prison labor like I envision it when I hear the word chore.

Continue reading “🚸 What a chore: My Kids Have it Easy”

😟 5 for Friday: Anxieties that struck me all at once in the high school drop-off line

photo credit: Kalexanderson via photopin cc
photo credit: Kalexanderson via photopin cc

High school.

See, I’m not the dad who fussed too much in the weeks leading to my oldest daughter becoming a high schooler. Why? Well, the inevitability is a factor. It’s not as if I can keep her from high school (short of just not dropping her off).

Me keeping her home to watch Ghost Adventures with me wouldn’t make me any less old.

It won’t grind to a halt the tumbleweed of progress, and I’d have to tote her around town to her menial job five days a week. Dads don’t worry about such eventualities until they’re right on us, like a heart attack.

Or a bad rash gone rogue.

Continue reading “😟 5 for Friday: Anxieties that struck me all at once in the high school drop-off line”

Meditations (or random rants and babbling? who can tell) for dads

photo credit: Kalexanderson via photopin cc
photo credit: Kalexanderson via photopin cc

When you watch your kids sleep, and feel a kinship Discovery Channel scientist who’s just approached a large, carnivorous just-tranquilized animal, it’s completely justified.

That uneasy feeling you get when animated TV shows come on with mature themes and innuendo humor come on with the kids in the room, that causes you to change the channel? Never lose it.

Do what you can to ensure your teenage girl’s homework-to-hair-fixin’ ratio remains around 2-to-1, at least. 3-to-1, if you have Ivy League (or private college) aspirations for her.

Even if all your kids are in sight and each is eating an ice cream cone, if you hear a scream of “daddy!” from behind you, you will turn to look. This is natural.

Continue reading “Meditations (or random rants and babbling? who can tell) for dads”

5 reasons a clutter-friendly car and a dad are a perfect fit

 

clutter
photo credit: First Order Stormtroopers via photopin (license)

When I clean out my car, I do it right.

And there’s always a backlash.

“I’m starving. Where are the snacks, daddy?”

“I’m cold! Where are your sweatshirts, daddy?”

Continue reading “5 reasons a clutter-friendly car and a dad are a perfect fit”

🚘 Accessorizing, Categorizing, and Other -ings Daddies Don’t Do

photo credit: ShellyS via photopin cc
photo credit: ShellyS via photopin cc

Daddy! I need your help!

I’ve heard this once or twice. It can mean, “I got a pizza-sauce stain on my sister’s school shirt!” It could mean, “I’ve toppled a beer display at Food Lion, and the manager hasn’t seen it.”

It also could mean something mischievous is about to happen to a relative.

Camdyn needed my expertise in sorting out hair accessories. Me? Really? It’s like asking Ndamukong Suh for directions to the kindness march. accessoriesCamdyn wanted me to help her sort out girl hair accessories into four categories:

  1. Rubberbands/clips
  2. Poofy rubberbands
  3. Elastic headbands
  4. Regular headbands

Oh, and contribute to a pile of “yard sale/trash” offerings. (“Anything too stretched out goes there, dad,” she explained. “Or if it has Tinkerbell or princesses on it.)

(“But don’t write a story that says I don’t like Tinkerbell. Or princesses.”)

Sure, Camdyn. You’re asking the man who has two categories of hair accessories on his radar – those that hurt when I step on them, and those that don’t.

So, I’d better ask some questions.

Me: Why do you girls love your sidebangs so much?

Camdyn: They make us look pretty in church.

(This makes little sense to a man who hasn’t used a comb since 1987, nor had a haircut since, well, I’m not sure, but I’m pretty sure it was in 2012).

Me: Why do we have to do this?

Camdyn: Because Madison just throws them on the floor.

photo credit: Disney Fairies Tink's Pirate Fairy Bling Boutique at Target 4/14/14 via photopin (license)
photo credit: Disney Fairies Tink’s Pirate Fairy Bling Boutique at Target 4/14/14 via photopin (license)

Good point. So the sorting went on, and so did the learning. Out went the Tinkerbell pieces (Shh!), along with those too worn out to hold together the daily paper for a Tuesday.

Clips congregated in the safety of their numbers, out of harm’s (and my feet’s) way.

The kid can accessorize.

She’s the child who helped me organize my own stuff, with such helpful hints as rolling up my belts, stacking up my soccer shirts, and splitting up my underwear into “favorites” and “not so favorites.”

For the record: None of those had Tinkerbell on them.

Or princesses.

accessories quote