Monthly Archives: January 2012

Winter Blast – By the Numbers

6 – Days of No Running
5 – Days of No Driving
4 – Snow Days to Make Up
3 – Fun Events Postponed
2 – Wild-eyed, Wrestlin’ Boys
1 – Diaper Left

We are emerging from the Northwest’s Winter Blast. After staring at the same walls, listening to the same X-Box games, answering the same question (“Do you think I’m going to school tomorrow?”) and being tagged from face to shin with countless snowballs, I thought that I would be annoyed, short-tempered, irritated, at the end of my rope. Surprisingly, I am not. I expected to be ready to high-tail it out of here at the first sign of snowmelt. Remarkably, that’s not the case. In fact, it was a rather pleasant week of being hunkered down at home, enjoying the simplicity of our surroundings. Thankfully, there was nowhere that I had to be. As the neighborhood roads were undriveable and unrunnable, we went for walks, built snowmen and a saucer run, and threw snowballs. We baked cookies and Shrinky Dinks. We admired the trees adorned with snow in our very own Winter Wonderland.

But the moments that I became keenly aware of were the ones in which my attention was not required or sought out — the ones in which the brothers became a team and worked together. One afternoon, as they conspired and played in the lower bunk, the chattering and chuckling was soon followed by a Bonk! Then crying and tears. “Are you OK? It’s gonna be OK” I heard as big brother comforted little brother. Another time I came downstairs to find big brother making two bags of microwave popcorn and two cups of hot cocoa to share with little brother. And one morning in the kitchen, the carrots were sliced precisely and perfectly, the potatoes peeled beautifully, by the 8-year-old while the broth was dumped into the Crock-Pot by the 3-year-old. Comforting, sharing, helping…they were the bright, beautiful, warm spots during a long, snowy, cold week.

So today I’ll drive, go to the gym and buy diapers, remembering not only the fun times in 15 inches of snow, but the accumulations in our household: brotherhood, love and teamwork.

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Hello world!

Huckster departed for Heaven, or shuffled off to Buffalo, as he liked to say, six months ago. I thought it was a fitting time to put this blog out into the world. As I write, I remember, and connect with him — the best writer and storyteller I’ve ever known. I even talked about the idea of its title with him some time ago. So I’d like to dedicate this blog to the best dad in the world, Huck Hagenbuch. Here goes, Dad…..I love you and miss you dearly!

Green Hair & Sam

Friday was Twin Day at my eight-year-old son Rassy’s elementary school. I knew this well in advance. He, however, came home Thursday with a sense of urgency. ..

“Tomorrow’s Twin Day,” he announces. ” We need to get some stuff. Sam and I are gonna dress like twins.”

Oh?

“We’ve been talking about it all week,” he informs me.

This is news to me.

“Like what? What kind of stuff?” I ask.

“Like hair stuff, like last year.”

He’s talking about colored hairspray, the kind he used in First Grade. I begin the scramble. I check the drugstore’s website and determine where I can find it. I look in the school directory to get Sam’s phone number. No dice. My mind races…

“Okay, jump in the car. We’ll go get the hair spray and then drop it off at school afterwards,” I announce as I remember that Sam goes to the Y daycare after school.

We peruse the hairspray colors for several minutes. After finding that they don’t carry the agreed-upon Red, he settles on Green.

We throw it in the bag with a note to Sam’s dad that includes our phone number and drop it off at school. We hope for the best.

Later that night Sam’s dad calls, and we talk attire. Rassy confers with Sam. We determine that both boys will wear black shirts, jeans and spray their hair green. Green all over. It’s a done deal.

We wake up Friday morning, Twin Day, and the anxiety begins.

“Can you guarantee that Sam’s gonna do it?” Rassy asks (“guarantee” is his new favorite, most-often-used word.)

“No, I can’t guarantee anything that anybody else is going to do. But since we talked to his dad, I think there’s a really good chance.”

He throws out the worst-case scenario: “What if he doesn’t?”

“Well, let’s put a hat in your backpack, just in case.”

“What if Sam doesn’t do it?” Rassy asks again.

We then talk through what he could say, how he could handle his disappointment. We rehearse some lines.

We spray his hair green. All over.

It’s time to make the drive to school. He hops in the cars, still questioning…

“What if Sam doesn’t do it….”

Moments later I turn into the school parking lot and across the distance see the brightest, neon Hulk-green head glowing under the covered playground.

“Sam did it!” I declare.

The emotions dance across his face: relief, happiness, excitement, joy.

“Can you guarantee it?” he asks.

“100 percent.”

As I prepare to drop my green-headed, black-shirted son at the Kiss ‘n’ Go line, my heart swells with pride and happiness. He has taken the lead. He has made this happen. He has reached out. He has taken a chance. He has stepped out of his comfort zone.

He is learning to trust.

Not because of something I say, or attempt to teach, but through his own experience. As a relatively laid-back, reserved dude, this is a Big Deal. I tell him that I’m proud of what he’s done for Twin Day:  for taking the lead, making things happen, reaching out, taking chances, stepping out of his comfort zone. Trusting.

He jumps out of the car and runs to meet his Twin. A concrete column blocks my view. I can’t see what happens when they spot each other. But I imagine the delight as they see each other, and the comfort and confidence that comes with being a pair. Again, my heart swells.

A Big Deal? I guarantee it.