The Results May Vary

Observations from my Mixed Up World


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The Apple of Discord

I know it always sounds like celebration abounds at our house, but since Christmas it’s been like the marriage feast of Peleus and Thetis.  Our Apple of Discord is neither round nor red.  In fact, it is flat and runs on both electricity and anger apparently.  Yup, we are the proud owners of one IPad Mini.  The TV commercials do not do this device credit.  I’d always figured that electronic devices used energy but this one creates powerful waves of negative energy.

How it began seemed so simple.  Milo had been begging for a laptop for months and with his Christmas money was finally able to afford something worth owning.  Boxing Day sales were on and it was time to take the plunge.  “But,” thought the parents “perhaps Maya will feel left out and might need something to keep the rivalry in check.”  Oh foul, foul attempt to fathom the fiendish depths of a child’s mind.  Woe, woe unto you that seeks to avoid conflict for ye shall be struck down with thrice what you sought to avoid.  “An IPad mini will be just right for her and she can afford it herself.”  we divined.  We should’ve sacrificed another chicken or checked the Tarot cards, I’m not sure what we missed.  But we broke one of the cardinal rules of parenting which I define as Never do something just for your children.  You must always have some sort of personal return.

If you have an IPad and a laptop, you’ve already figured out the problem.  IPads are for entertainment and laptops are for work.  So the great battle of IPad user-ship was launched.  New volumes were written in our house regarding the fairness of IPad usage.  Each child has expanded their mastery of curse words and challenged even the most foul mouthed of us to keep up.  For 3 months, they have been lugging that damned thing everywhere and fought, argued, pushed, shoved, served time-outs, been sent to bed countless times.  Kids that used to be able to make it one block in the car before fighting now can’t make it out of the driveway.  Mother, who despises technology to begin with, has started patrolling the house with a white knuckle grip on my cleaver just hoping to render a King Solomon type judgement on the foul device.

But just as the Trojan war eventually ended, so might our pain.  Today, I traded Milo for his laptop.  He got a brand new IPad mini of his own and we now own another laptop.  Whoever said one in the hand is better than two in the bush was obviously hungry for food, not peace and quiet.  As for us, we are keeping our fingers crossed.

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It’s not even the full moon and I’ve already become a lunatic

I’m not bragging when I claim that I am a patient man.  Really patient.  And really calm.  When I did basic training in the military, I’d already learned how to stand still and keep my mouth shut.  Calling me a maggot and suggesting that I’d be better off doing unmentionable things to myself in a dung heap doesn’t really bother me.

So it baffles me how my five year old can turn me into a raving maniac.  There is no way that a grown man whose been through powerful life changing challenges, hiked up mountainsides in the middle of the night carrying an 80 pound pack, been an HR manager in a ruthless nasty company dealing with criminals and drug addicts (incidentally the criminals were much nicer than management) should be powerless in arguing with a child.

I’ve already known that Maya is the Jedi Master of finding someone’s weakness and pushing their buttons.  Clearly she is a Sith.  I’ve watched her turn Milo, four years her senior, into a crying mess.  I’ve seen her repeat a single line of a song so many times that I had to put my wife out of the car at the side of the road to protect everyone present.  But I’ve always felt immune to her mojo.

Naturally, as any student of the classics knows, hubris brings down the wrath of the gods.  I should have seen my time coming but that’s how hubris goes I guess.  But doesn’t it just destroy any rationality to go through exchanges like this:

The scene:  I’ve raced home from work and I am slaving like a house elf to get dinner on the table before Milo needs to be chauffeured to one of his many weeknight activities.

The Cast: Me, Maya (just arrived home and hell bent of having a snack), Milo (just arrived home and hell bent of watching as much TV as possible before dinner)

Maya:  I’m hungry.

Me:  I’m making dinner right now.  You can eat in 10 minutes.

Maya:  (beginning to whine)  But I’m hungry… I’m hungry now.

Me:  Why don’t you set the table and that will get food to you quicker.

Maya:  (bursting into tears) I’m hungry.  I want a snack.  I want bread and butter.

Me: (knowing full well that bread and butter destroys all dinner consumption) No.

Maya:  (full out screaming with two fingers in her mouth to distort what ever she says)  I hate you.  I hate my father.  I’m hungry.

Me:  (strongly resisting the urge to scream “I hate you back” because I’ll feel bad later)  Just go away while I make dinner.  (since I’m getting excited I begin to chop the salad with my biggest knife like an IronChef)

Maya:  (fingers still in mouth)  What are we having for dinner?

Me:  Steak with mashed potatoes and a salad.

Maya:  (ratchets up the up the whining)  I hate potatoes and I hate salad.  I want bread and butter.  (begins to scream and wail like an Italian widow at a funeral)

Me:  (clenching my teeth and trying not to chop through the cutting board)  Tough.  If you don’t eat it then you aren’t hungry.

Maya:  I hate it.  I hate you.

Me:  (yelling up the stairs) Milo… I need you to set the table.

Milo: (since I did not appear on the TV to issue the summons, he does not respond)

Me:  (louder) Milo.  Where are you?

Maya:  He’s watching TV and I’m hungry and I won’t eat potatoes.  I want bread and butter now!!!

Milo: (from the top of the stairs, avoiding eye contact and hoping I won’t notice him since he isn’t whining)  Did you call me?

Me:  (undergo a metamorphosis similar to Bruce Banner becoming the Hulk)

“LEAVE ME ALONE!  I’LL DO IT ALL MYSELF.  I DON’T CARE JUST GO AWAY ALL OF YOU!!!!  AHHHHH!!!” 

Everyone scatters and I finish dinner is less time that the whole argument took and calm down.  We all sit for dinner and Maya says “Where’s my bread and butter?”

Maybe if I put a bag over my head I’ll be protected from the evil influences or maybe a tin foil cap.  I try some things and get back to you.