Special Operations Dad---The Double-Take Maneuver!

The Double-Take Maneuver! In the list of tools for the Special Operations Dad this tool is indispensable!

"What the heck...???!!"


"Hey... come back here!"

You're walking down the hall with an arm load of dirty socks and underwear when you suddenly stop...look up at some imaginary instant replay screen in front of your mind... take three steps back... "UMMMM...Hey guys... Maybe that's NOT such a good idea to be (you fill in the blank here).

You say that doesn't happen to you EVERY DAY! Yeah... you don't have kids. But that's okay (All of us with kids are rolling our eyes at you because you have NO idea what we're talking about here, but we will act like you do so that you will keep talking to us and thinking that we are cool.)

Here's another one...

You're sitting at the dinner table and it's the 5 minutes of clinking, cutting and eating in silence that happens after the first feeding frenzy and loading of the plates. It's nice! It's relatively quiet, except for the fact that 3 of the kids still haven't learned to chew with their mouths closed.( It's annoying! I mean, I have tried to teach th... anyway... I digress.. they aren't yelling and it's quiet.)

So you glance up from your near-gourmet prepared dinner at the table full of younglings and you smile to yourself as you realize that maybe they aren't so bad and that... WAIT... "Calvin? What did you do to your face? Did you...(you fill in the blank here)"

All of you parents out there are nodding in an involuntary sympathetic way. I can see you doing it! It's the involuntary nodding of..."yeah, I know... it sucks!"

We are, after all, the Cosby Show generation! We watched Newhart as he calmly dealt with the slow witted Larry and Brothers Darryl. We laughed along as the Keatons tried their best to raise Alex and his flighty sister Mallory, but we took mental notes. Not to mention WE tried to get away with the same stupid stuff when we were kids!

Do our kids really think we're idiots?? With our training and hands-on experience we are like the freaking "Navy Seals" of "Idiot Stuff that Kids Try". (...As I take a break to check on my 7 yo twins who have become a little TOO quiet. I  had to confiscate two permanent markers and some scissors. The naked Barbie Doll collection can thank me later.)

Its as if the kids think we won't see them walking stiffly out of the kitchen staring intently straight ahead with one hand hidden on the other side of their body. (Insert a double take action as I am vacuuming up the shavings from the guinea pig cage that have somehow made their way to the couch) "Put the cookies back! Dinner is almost ready!" (Seriously! I'm old but I'm not blind and dumb!)

Except for the small insurgency attacks of my 7 yo, Calvin, I've got it under control! Calvin has decided that my life isn't exciting enough so he takes appliances apart and then tries to put it back together... and then doesn't warn me!

All he would have to say is, "Hey Dad, you may want to be careful plugging the iron in this morning..."  I'm just sayin'... a heads-up would be nice!

Instead I plugged the iron in at 5 am to iron my sweatshirt before I go running (What?!!! Stop giving me that look! The shirt was wrinkly... yes I know I have issues.) anyway, I plugged the iron in and the iron exploded on the ironing board above my head and the plug (which is still in my hand) sent sparks and smoke shooting right at me like an RPG! I instinctively did my Jason Bourne "roll to safety" in a very non-clutzy way. ( I actually hit my toes on the bed post and my head on the ironing board as I jumped clear from the explosion.)

I had to sit there on the floor and gain my composure. I figured with my heart rate already being adequately stimulated I could forgo the morning run and maybe just sit on the floor for a while... HEY! It scared the POO out of me!

Fast forward to 6 am, Calvin is walking around in his normal zombie-esque state trying to decide how he can forget to wear socks. I see him do his own version of a double-take at the scorched iron and the big brown spot on the wall. He leans over and looks at the wall and looks genuinely impressed at the scope of the damage. I clear my throat at him from across the room.

Cue the innocent face, "What??? What's wrong dad?"

I point to the iron and the wall that he is trying to hide by standing in front of them, as if I will somehow lose my mind and forget. "Oh! Yeah... I think I tried to fix the iron yesterday. The little water sprayer part wasn't working." He reaches over to the iron and extends it toward me and pushes the button a few times and brown water squirts onto my white bed sheets. "OH! Sorry. But see, it works now!"

"Go get some socks on, Son.... (Cue double take) WAIT! Are you wearing your big brothers underwear???" (A bulging mass of Calvin Klein underwear was hanging out of the back of his jeans in a big bunched up pile) Calvin smiles his best "Oh Yeah" smile. "Go change into YOUR underwear and THEN put on some socks.  I just saved your life! You know your Big Brother would have committed a level 3 act of violence if he caught you wearing his underwear!" (I will explain the Injury Classification Levels tomorrow)

"Thanks, Dad!" (I could tell he was genuinely grateful for me saving him from a good wallop from his big brother.)

"Just doing my job, Son." Special Operations Parenting in action, Baby!!! Even in the throes of a post-explosion PTSD... Nothing gets past my double-take!


The Manly Art of... Carrying On!

I'm supposed to give a presentation to a large group on "Gaining Strength... Through Experience." Funny... I don't think you necessarily gain strength through all experiences. Sometimes I believe you lose part of yourself that you can never get back. Not really the "motivation" I think they are expecting from me.

But if you truly give yourself to a cause or an effort can you honestly say that it has always been worth it? That the time and the sweat and the tears and the blood were given toward a worthy cause? Sometimes you just need to have the strength and experience to do something that needs to be done and because no one else is stepping forward and doing it.

Don't you feel it to be a little immature to have the notion that you MUST gain something from everything? Sometimes you just have to give that extra effort and sacrifice that time and spill that blood and sweat for no other reason than you KNOW it's what you should do.

Some may call it soldiering on... trudging forward... putting one foot in front of the other... or, you know... Carrying ON!

There is a notion to classify any mistakes we make as "experience" and any successes we run into as "education".  If I were to show you a copy of my life's resume you would see that I am very HEAVY on experience. Lots and lots of experience!! I've got the scars to prove it.

I know scars... deep scars that will never go away. We all have scars of some sort. My Chief Master Sgt was my mentor in the military and went to dive school with me early in my career so that we could re-certify. When he came out to the pool for the first day I saw a constellation of scars across his chest and shoulders. I was only 23 and just beginning my career.

My buddy, who has no qualms about saying whatever pops into his head, mouthed off... "DAMN! It looks like you've had your ass kicked a few times!" He laughed at himself.

The old Warrior sat down next to the young warrior and smiled at him and said, "I probably have had my ass kicked a few times, but all of my scars are in the front..." then he gave the young pup a pat on his shoulder and trudged off to the pool.

Think about it... you know what he was trying to explain to us! He never ran... never backed down... never took his face from the wind... never stopped carrying on!

So I may have a lot of marks and scars... but I've tried to make sure they are all in the front. You can't carry on if you're running away! You can't!

And sometimes, it stops being about the flag on your shoulder or the "cause" and more about that person standing there in the breach with you. The one who is standing back-to-back with you through the the longest nights. You won't run, because you know they won't.

I didn't realize it but my Chief left a trail for me to follow and now I find myself passing this information on to my children. Last summer when I took my kids to a swim party at the YMCA I took my shirt off and carried my twins into the pool to help them become more comfortable with the crowded pool.

Standing in the pool with a kid hanging on each arm my son Calvin starts poking his fingers on the spots where there are scars... "Dad, what are these spots and lines?"

"Those are just scars, son."

"You have a lot of them."

"Only on the front, son."

Enjoy these two clips. They come the closest I have found to the way things really are and should be.
I will post a copy of my presentation here on Monday. I still have to "wrestle out" a few of the details.
Go do something MANLY!