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Playing with fire: Part 2

21 Jul

A couple of days ago, I wrote about my experience as a crappy Boy Scout.  I wrote about how I got my fire chit and was able to build awesome fires.  Back in May I wrote about me throwing flaming paper airplanes out of my second story window.  I said that was my last time playing with fire, but not my brothers.  Here is his tale:

Behind our house was for the longest time a construction company’s stockpile and yard.  Directly behind our property they had put a bunch of small mounds of dirt for some purpose I suppose.  Picture a mogul field but rather than being on a ski slope these were on flat ground and you’ll have a good idea of what I’m talking about.  My brother and I thought it would be a great idea to have a camp fire one fine summer evening, toast marshmallows, sing songs, etc.  So that afternoon, me being the ex-Boy Scout with 3/4ths of a fire chit built a killer teepee surrounded by a log cabin stack of wood, kindling, and paper.   One of us stupidly brought a packet of matches with us (I contend that it was my brother who brought the matches, I’m sure he thinks otherwise).  As I’m building our fire, surrounding it with stones, etc. my brother is lighting matches, watching them burn, then dropping them on the ground.  Did I mention that these hills had been there a LOOOOOOONG time and it was a very dry summer so all the vegetation (weeds) that had grown on top and around the mounds was nice and dry?  Yeah, I’m sure you can see where this is going.  I told him to knock it off and stop wasting my matches.  His reply?  “Just one more.”  Of course he lit “just one more” too close to his fingers, burned himself, and dropped the match.  Right on a nice bit of dead stuff.  I don’t remember how fast the hill caught fire.  I do remember running up to the house yelling for my mom and her friend that my bro had set the field on fire, laughing hysterically the entire time.  I was USELESS when it came to helping put the fire out.  I could not stop laughing.  On the plus side, my fire started right up and burned beautifully.

In the end the fire was fairly quickly put out and no one was hurt.  I guess that’s a positive end to the story.  Except that it’s not the end.  You would think that my brother would have gotten into trouble for setting fire to a field, right?  Wrong.  I got in trouble.  For being useless.  For laughing at my brother thinking he would get himself into trouble (finally).  For not helping to put out the fire.  I think I was grounded for a week, and had my fire chit taken away from me.  Not that it was at all useful being a piece of paper.  Actually, I probably would have set fire to it at some point, so it was probably wise of my mom to take it from me…

How to not get caught sneaking out after curfew

20 Jul

Time for another summer camp story.  Back when I was 13 I started working during the summer at Camp-of-the-Woods.  I worked there for six summers.  I came away from there with a greater sense of independence and a bunch of awesome stories.  My last summer working there, I was a Boat Guy.  What does that mean?  Basically it means I was a slave to a girls camp on the island in the middle of the lake, I gave sailing and boating lessons to people who probably had no business being out on the water, and I taught waterskiing.  I also learned that if you look like you are on official business, people will leave you alone.  Part of catering to the island’s every whim entailed carrying  a radio to be at their beck and call 24 hours a day.  While I hated having to carry the radio, it did have its uses.  My buddies and I loved late night boat rides and hanging out on the lake smoking cigars.  What better way to accomplish this than to leave our bunk house at midnight walking right past the curfew checkers and explaining that you were needed on the island and your buddies were going along to watch for rocks, logs, etc?  Nine times out of ten they didn’t have a radio, so there was no way for them to check up on us.

So kids what can we learn from this?

  1. Sneaking out after curfew is fun.
  2. Hanging out at night in the middle of a lake on a brand new ski boat is awesome.
  3. If you look like you are on official business, you probably won’t get caught.
  4. Make sure no one talks.
It’s that last one that will make or break you.

The Last Boy Scout

18 Jul

When I was in the 6th-7th grades, I was a Boy Scout for a minute.  I thought it would be pretty cool to learn how to start fires, handle an ax, etc.  I was sort of right, mostly wrong.  Turns out the Boy Scout troop I joined sucked.  They didn’t do any cool stuff at meetings like other troops did.  We didn’t even learn how to start fires or chop stuff up with axes during meetings.  We had to go to camp for that stuff.  So I go to  scout camp.  What a joke.  Our troop is the laughing stock of camp.  We can’t tie knots, do Morse Code, or start fires with a couple of sticks (ok, we were lazy).  Our scout leaders must have been pretty sick and tired of our goofing off and not earning any badges while we spent out time goofing off.  They told us we would all get our fire chits (apparently you need one of these to start fires…) if we could keep a fire going.  Did I mention it was pouring rain?  Yeah.  It was pouring and they want us to keep a fire going?!?  Well thanks to one well placed London Fog rain slicker (mine) and some dry wood we probably stole from another troop we got our fire chits.  Immediately we had one corner cut off for our stunt (get all 4 corners cut off and you can’t start fires anymore).  Our troop leaders were like that…

Fast forward to winter.  We sit in the local elementary school gym going over some useless nonsense when the leaders announce a winter camping trip that’s mandatory.  Mandatory winter camping?  Pass.  They wanted us all to go back to camp to freeze our collective asses off during February break.  No thanks.  So I tell the leaders I’m not going.  My family and I had already planned our annual ski trip.  Sorry, no way am I going to skip that to eat crappy hash and freeze my butt off in a tent.  The oldest leader stops the whole meeting, looks at me and says, “You need to decide where your priorities lie, with your family or with the Scouts!”  Yeah, sorry buddy.  Family first (and skiing).  Hands down.  I left the meeting and told my mom I was never going back.  I think I owed about 4 months worth of dues anyway.

I will always love you. I just don’t like you right now.

19 May

Let’s face it:  Kids can be annoying.  Kids can drive you right up the wall, and right down the other side.  I think they look at torturing parents as a game.  The madder mom gets, the redder her face gets, the funnier it is.  The madder dad gets, the louder he yells.  Let’s see if he can shake stuff on the walls!  I must be just a big kid because I tend the laugh when the kids are getting into trouble.  My dad was the same way.  I can’t tell you how many times he would have to turn a laugh into a cough, or leave the room because my mom was yelling at us over some stupid thing my brother and I just did.  I’d like to think it’s an inherited trait; however, maybe it’s all males who do this.  Do other dads laugh at the expense of their children?  I have sat in the kitchen waiting for the timer to go off choking with laughter at The Boy as he sits in time-out sticking his tongue out at me so many times I’ve lost count.  It’s funny!  He is our constant source of entertainment.  He comes up with the best facial expressions, the best come backs, the best creative pronunciations of words.  He’s a sarcastic little bugger too.  Most kids don’t understand sarcasm.  With my family that is completely untrue.  My kids get sarcasm.  My kids are almost as sarcastic as I am.  I find this hysterical.  I also find that they’ll probably get themselves into some sort of trouble because of their sarcastic nature.  The Boy most definitely will, and probably already has.  I know we’ve had notes home about him rolling his eyes at some comment the teacher made.  (On side note:  How appropriate is it that while writing this post, Vampire Weekend’s The Kids Don’t Stand a Chance comes on?)  Isn’t rolling one’s eyes a sign of appropriateness while being yelled at?  I know I did that with my parents when I was younger.  I also remember my butt breaking many wooden spoons…  I wonder if there is any correlation between the two.

In order to curb the kid’s crappy behavior, I’ve started a new trend.  I simply tell them the following, “You know, I will always love you.  I just really don’t like you right now.”  This seems to have the desired effect.  The kids know I’m going to punish them if they don’t knock it off.  They knock it off, and I don’t have to stop what I’m doing.  Win-win.  I have a feeling that I will be using this statement more and more as my kids get older.  Next year The Girl goes to middle school.  I don’t know how I feel about this.  With middle school comes hormones, crying, boyfriends, acne, crying, break-ups, crying, attitudes, a new school, crying, etc (did I mention crying?).  I don’t know if I’ll be able to stand it.  The Girl knows that I don’t deal with emotional stuff well.  I’ve always been the bottle up your feelings and let them burst out in a rush at the person you’re not really mad at kind of guy.  Lord, give me strength.  She might make it to 13 if she straightens up, flies right, and doesn’t annoy the crap out of me.

Have you ever laughed at your child?  Are your kids successfully sarcastic?  Leave a comment below.

The funny things we say and do

17 May

The following are just some of the funny short stories and sayings from my family:

“Do… Do I poop on the law?”  – The Boy when told that it was the law that he be completely potty trained by age 4 (yes, he’s a late bloomer).

“Damn it!  Damn it!  Damn it!”  – The Girl when she was 2 or 3 and told to put 6 or so stuffed animals onto her bed.  She instead tossed them from her room adding a “Damn it!” to each throw.

“I didn’t want an Ian.  I wanted a Court-a-knee!”  – Me, age 3, when we brought my brother home from the hospital.

“You bought WHAT!”  – Usually Mom.  Occasionally The Wife.  Never from me, or my dad, unless directed at a purchase my dad had foolishly made.

“I’ll just light one more match.  Then I’ll stop.”  – My brother, to be featured in an upcoming blog post entitled, “Playing with Fire.  Part 2”.

“Mom will never find out.”  – Either me or my brother.  She always does….

“BOYS!!!”  – Mom.  See, I told you she always finds out.

“No dad!  Not the knife!  Not the Knife!”  – See yesterdays post

“Mom, we’re play fighting.  We really do love each other!”  – Usually me, as I was beating the crap out of my brother.

“Yeah, you can make it.  No problem.”  – Usually me encouraging my brother to do something stupid.

When my brother was little, he had a terrible temper.  I swear I saw his eyes go blood red on many occasions.  On one of our ski trips, he wasn’t having a great day.  He had fallen and his boot had come off, he had been kicked off the bunny hill for being awesome, etc.  My dad was filming most of these things.  So my dad, being his oh so supportive self, decides to poke the bear.  He taunts my brother about his day, about his falls, etc all while filming my bro.  Funny thing about bears, they poke back.  I think we all almost wet ourselves when my brother grabbed his ski pole and jabbed my dad in the gut.  Watching my dad double over, then fall in the snow was hilarious.  We should have sent it into “America’s Funniest Home Videos”.  We would have won for sure.

Let’s here some of your family’s crazy stories, quotes, and/or sayings.  Leave a comment below:

Playing with Fire: part 1

10 May

Ah fire.  Giver of warmth, charred hotdogs, and toasted marshmallows.  Fire has always been a problem for my family.  I wouldn’t go as far as saying that we’re pyromaniacs, yet fire has been the prominent figure in many of our stories.  I would like to share one such story with you.

When I was in JR High, I loved to set things on fire, build camp fires, experiment with fire, etc.  I think this stems from a failed attempt at being a Boy Scout.  I did manage to get my fire chit when I was a Boy Scout.  It was pouring and our leader told us he’d give us our chits if we could keep a fire going.  One partially ruined London Fog raincoat later…..

This story, however, is about paper airplanes, balloons, and a bit of my hair.  Yes, I did set a bit of my hair on fire while burning a balloon.  Lighting a balloon on fire is pretty cool.  Because it’s rubber, it flames for just a second (dripping molten hot lava-rubber all over you), then is out.  Unfortunately, the air inside the balloon sometimes makes the flame pop, which is how I set a bit of my hair on fire…

What?  Where do the airplanes come in?  Well, right about here I guess.  As I said earlier, I loved to set stuff on fire.  Somehow I got this great idea that setting paper airplanes on fire and throwing them out my window would be cool.  Nothing like seeing a flaming jet hurl from an open window to the grass below (please remember that this was WAY before 9/11 and I was young and VERY stupid).  Eventually, my brother joined in (yes this one was all on me).  Every now and again, we’d accidentally set the grass on fire.  Just a little bit.  I wonder if my parents figured out what we were doing when we would go careening down the stairs and rush out the front door to put out a little grass fire….  Regardless, we kept this up until moms friend came over.  Remember yesterday how I told you she was the one who spotted all the toys all over the yard?  Yeah.  She nailed us again.  I think the conversation went something like: “What are the boys doing?”

“What do you mean?”

“There are bits of fire coming from the upstairs window.”

 “BOYS!!!!!!!!!”

Ah crap…  Caught again….

 I can’t remember what our punishment was, but I’d bet it was a doosy.  This was probably one of the many times my brother and I had to stand in opposite corners with our arms out straight without touching the walls.  I’d bet this stunt got us 10 minutes, plus a grounding, plus a surrender of all fire starting materials we might have possessed.  I will say that I never played with fire again.  My brother on the other hand….