Confirmed: I’m not getting the PC back anytime soon

This may fall under category of "bad parenting" but probably not. I hope not. Just don't tell Lily, OK?

My daughter saw all of the fun her brother has playing Team Fortress 2 and wanted in on the action. The kitchen iMac doesn't play games very well but my PC does. So I set her up on an account there, logged her into Steam and the rest was history.

She picked up TF2 quickly. Then she saw that she could play Borderlands 2, Torchlight II, Portal 2 (is there a "two" thing going on?) and spent hours on the PC.

Her normal activity is drawing on the iPad. She's really good and has developed a real skill. Video games are normally the domain of her brother. But they seem to like playing on the same TF2 server. When they're on the same team she plays the medic and supplies health to the other players. When she's on different teams she plays the scout.

She spent the whole evening playing and I had no clue. It wasn't till I went to turn off the light in the office that I saw her. Her mother would not be happy had she walked into the room.

There is hope that the has inherited Lily's Adult Supervision™ genes. I told her that I'd get a third PC for her, probably from Costco. Her answer?

That's wasteful. I can share yours when you are not using it.

I have no idea where she picks that stuff up. I've certainly never encouraged that sort of behavior.

Just mind the wind

My son is a fan of all things remote controlled and his latest thing is R/C airplanes. After indulging him with R/C cars Lily and I told him that he could get one under 2 conditions: he had to earn it and he had to pay for it out of his own pocket.

Note to aspiring parents: watch out for setting well defined conditions. After weeks for trying to behave well and saving up we went to the hobby store and picked up a HobbyZone Duet. He paid cash and got a receipt.

This is a starter plane and like most of them is built using light weight foam. Last week it took a nose dive and I had to use white glue and clear tape to put the nose back on. He did everything right but it took a dive onto some pavement and neatly broke the nose off.

Yesterday we went to his school and he gave it a good run but within 2 minutes he wanted to stop.

“Dad? I’m going to land it now.

Me: You could but why not keep it in the air for a while? Notice how there’s nothing you can crash into up there?”

That convinced him and he built up his confidence and nearly ran the battery down. He landed perfectly in the grass (we took the landing wheels off).

The second run was more fun. The plane weighs next to nothing and a light wind pushed it slowly across the school fields. Slowly as in we didn’t notice how far it really was until we saw the tree line. Fortunately he landed it without crashing and we had a great time.

It’s a fun hobby but this plane really needs a calm day to fly.

Kids? The no snow today is my doing

This is something that’s bugged me since yesterday and I figured I’d post a public apology to my children. You see, they really wanted a snow day today or at least a delayed opening.

I’m going to take the chance and hope that my kids can someday forgive me and understand this mighty burden that fate has placed on my shoulders.

Letter to my kids

Dear kids,

I know you were looking forward to not going to school today but you are old enough to learn the truth. Your father has the super power of being able to prevent things from happening merely by preparing for them.

I’ll pause for a moment while you take that in.

I know. Right now that your eyes are wide open in shock and you may even yell out “I knew it!” but please think of your Grandmother. It’s too early for that sort of outburst.

I discovered I had this ability when I habitually carried my umbrella everywhere I went. It was tied to my backpack and I would forget I even had it. It never rained those days or if it did it would stop as soon as I hit the street.

But the day came that I switched bags and left the umbrella at home. That day on the way to Penn station we suddenly got 11 inches of rain in 30 minutes and I was soaked to the bone.

Seriously, I was wet for a week.

Now, your mother may tell you something like “Some people never learn to stay out of the rain” but please understand that she’s only trying to protect you from the truth.

Yesterday, fully armed with the knowledge of the Impending Snow Apocalypse™, I went to the gas station and filled up the portable tank. We now have enough gas for the snow thrower for the next 2 years at least. I moved the car in and put the snow thrower in right at the garage entrance.

I did this not out of malice nor did I intend to rob you of your cherished snow day. But I’m told the older generation has had it with snow and I’ve learned with enough Adult Supervision™ you have no choice but to be “grown up” about these things.

As a result of my actions we got almost half an inch of snow. If I had merely not done anything then I am sure we’d have had easily 14 inches.

So now you know the truth. When I prepare for something it is a hard guarantee that it will not occur. I hope you can forgive your father someday for robbing you of that snow day.

Your father,

Jan Dembowski

P.S. This may be the last communication from me for a while. I switched bags today and noticed that I left the umbrella home today.

Afterwards

I hope they take this letter well. It’s really cold enough today and I hope that Lily doesn’t mind my revealing myself like that to them. Or the world! She’s always concerned about what other grown ups may think about what I reveal about myself.

I’m not asking, but if I did ask what would be the answer?

My 12-year-old has gotten into trouble at home and even though he’s grounded it’s alright. He’s 12 after all and I got into LOTS of trouble when I was his age.

My parents had 4 sons and the whole family is opinionated and we all fought everyday. I learned at an early age where the line was and exactly how far over the line I could go before I got into real trouble.

This is a skill I carry with me in the workplace and for the last 6 years I’ve not gotten into that sort of trouble at work. That’s despite saying some extraordinarily ballsy things too. My sense of humor just comes out at the best times.

It’s good to know where the line is and how far you can stretch over it.

So I was really amused when my son came home this afternoon and said this.

“Dad. I know I’m not allowed to use the computer. And I’m not going to ask if I can. But if I were going to ask you when I can use the computer what would your answer be?”

My reply was along the lines of “Don’t push it kid” but after he left I laughed. He’s a smart kid but I do worry that his generation doesn’t have to deal with consequences at an early age. Later on yes, but every infraction can be fixed quickly. My son hasn’t yet learned that the plate is hot and you don’t put your hands on it cause it hurts.

Meh. There’s no rush. The kids will grow up soon enough.

“Really pushes my buttons”

I’m driving my 8-year-old son to the train station to pick up his mother after work at the train station. He’s telling me about a kid that bothered him in school last year.

Him: Dad, he made me very upset. He really pushes my buttons.

Me: Well, try not to get worked up. If you lose your temper you’ll be in trouble.

Him: Yeah but he really pushes my buttons, you know? He really does push my buttons.

Me: When did you start saying “pushes my buttons”??

Him: I heard you say it today.

I was working from home that day and had to deal with another fine example of social darwinism. Later on while speaking to someone I said that phrase and my son picked it up.

Little kids do not miss a thing. Good thing he didn’t hear the more acerbic comments I sometimes make…

“I hope they don’t bring back segregation”

The things kids say. On the radio this morning me and the kids heard about that public announcement someone aired in a Walmart. Some jerk used the PA system to make a racist comment.

WASHINGTON TOWNSHIP, N.J. (AP/ 1010 WINS) — An announcement at a Walmart store in New Jersey ordering black people to leave brought chagrin and apologies Wednesday from leaders of the company, which has built a fragile trust among minority communities.

A male voice came over the public-address system Sunday evening at a store in Washington Township in southern New Jersey and calmly announced: “Attention Walmart customers: All black people leave the store now.”

via Announcement At NJ Wal-Mart: ‘All Black People Leave Store Now’ – 1010WINS.com .

There are always an available pool of morons in any public place, and I seriously doubt that Walmart had anything to do with that. And now Walmart is locking down the PA system at least in that store.

But what struck me was what my 8 year old said when he heard that.

Him: I hope they don’t bring back segregation.

Me: How do you know about segregation??

Him: Dad. We learned about that during Black History month.

Me: Oh.

I should not be surprised at all, and I’m glad that my kids school teaches about that. But at 6 AM on a Saturday morning, I’m not ready to hear things like that from my kid’s mouth.

8 bags of garbage

My family and I have been living in our house for over 5 years now. During that time, I have cleaned up my junk in the basement a couple of times.  Our kids? Not once. Our basement looked like an organized mess.  All of their toys (mostly broken) were piled up against the wall.

That changed today. This morning Lily and I started small and just kept going. We ended up throwing out eight 45 gallon bags (I could have sworn we bought 55 gallon drum liners but they weren’t). The kids helped too, so no hysterics.

What made me a little depressed was that the 1/144 HG Gundam models that my son made were damaged and had parts missing, so he decided to toss them out. Not all of them, but the four that he tossed were ones that I was proud of him working on.

Here are some of the models he tossed today.

It’s not really a big deal, and each one was broken. But I was a little sad at them being tossed out so casually.

The deal with my son is that if we clean out the old stuff, I’ll get him a Lionel O gauge set.  Right now he has an HO scale set but with all the space we cleaned out, we can get another folding table and set up a bigger set.

Geez, I really am getting old and sentimental. You are supposed to get attached to people and not things.  That is something I am trying to teach both my children so I can’t really be unhappy about them letting go of things.

“Let’s go to a different cemetery”

Today we observed the anniversary of a close relative’s death by visiting the cemetery and leaving offerings (Chinese family members).  It’s very respectful and Lily and I want our children to understand the reasons for this.

But my five year old girl is sick and the place we were going to is very cold.  She would have gotten much worse so we left her at home.  After the visit the whole family went to Flushing to eat, did some shopping and we came home around 4 P.M.

She was still upset about it.  I once again explained that where we went was very cold and she would have been miserable.  I promised that next time we go, she will come too (if she is not sick again).

She: It was very cold?

Me: Yes, windy and freezing.

She: Let’s go to a different cemetery. Once that has heating.

What could I say to that?