It’s the Kids, Stupid

Forgive me for calling you stupid in the title of this blog. I don’t think you’re stupid.

“It’s the economy, stupid.” This is what James Carville said to Bill Clinton during Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign. I guess Carville thought everything boiled down to the state of economy. Well, okay. I don’t think it’s all about the economy. More things in heaven and earth, you know? But what do I know.

The kids. Right now, for me, it’s all about the kids. 6 year-old Solomon David Tanner. 4 year-old Samson David Tanner. They have energy to move mountains. Emotions to conjure tempests. Chutzpah to chutz the pah.

Four months without school. Without a babysitter. Without a trip to the library or the trampoline park. Four months without a visit to the pool. No playdates. No travel. Everyday is a Herculean effort to keep up with the boys. Keep them occupied. Make sure they stay alive. It takes a village? Not during a global pandemic. It takes two isolated parents doing their best to keep up.

It’s the economy, stupid? No, stupid, it’s the kids.

***

These four months have been a blur. A very loud blur. My children are not quiet children. They are a Pantera concert.

Solomon and Samson are up at 5:00 AM. And they’re running hot until 8:00 PM. And then Katie and I collapse on the couch. Hit by a freight train. Wake up and do it again. Rinse and repeat.

A few milestones have occurred during these strange times.

Samson has finally decided that he’s too big for pull-ups. Kindergarten is coming. Like a freight train. Time to poop on the potty, my man. I’ve been cajoling Samson to do away with pull-ups. Finally, I hit on something that interested him.

“I’ll buy you a booster seat when you poop on the potty,” I said.

“Like Solomon?” Samson considered my offer.

“Like Solomon,” I smiled like a used car salesman. Or a long-term care insurance salesman (which I was in a former life). “Like a big boy.”

The next day, I was downstairs. Doing my best to get some work done in my office while the boys wreaked havoc upstairs.

“Dad!!!” Solomon screamed. “Come see what Samson did!”

I had an idea what my son had done. But I wanted to celebrate the moment. I burst upstairs and followed Solomon to the potty. Samson was beaming. Jumping up and down. Katie’s face was green, but she was trying to hold a smile.

“Look what I did, Dad!” Samson howled with excitement.

There, in the toilet, rested an enormous piece of poop. It was about seven times the size of Samson. I nearly threw up. Instead, I clenched my teeth, and told Samson how proud I was.

“Can I get a booster seat now?” Samson asked. “Like a big boy.”

“Yes, Samson,” I said as my stomach turned. “I’m very proud of you.”

I pray that Samson is done with pull-ups. I’ve spent the GDP of a small Eastern European nation on diapers over the last six years.

Look at the number of times I wrote poop and potty above. What’s become of me?

Here’s another small milestone. Last week, Samson and I left the house early on Monday morning. Drove to the doctor’s office. He wore a mask and I wore a mask. They checked our temperatures and we made it past the checkpoint. Into the waiting room.

“I’m scared,” Samson said as his mask fell off his face again. “And I hate my mask.”

“You’ll be fine, bud,” I told him. “And you’ll get used to the mask.”

And then we were in the doctor’s office. And I hugged Samson. And Samson closed his eyes tight. And the nurses injected the boy with vaccines. Samson barely flinched. I was impressed.

“I got my shots, Dad!” Samson howled with delight after I buckled him into his new booster seat. “I’m ready for kindergarten!”

“You sure are, bud!”

I don’t know what kindergarten will look like next fall. We’ve been told there will be social distancing and masks and hand sanitizer. Whatever that means in kindergarten and first grade. I do know that Penn State unveiled their plans last week. They’re bringing the students back. 100,000 people from around the world and the country will descend on State College in two months. Gee, I wonder if they will bring Covid with them? The Clemson football team returned last week. Twenty-three of them tested positive for the virus. Delightful. Anyway, president Barron of THE Pennsylvania State University has assured us there will be a mix of in-person and virtual classes. All in-person activity will end at Thanksgiving, for fear of an increase in Covid-19 related Covidness. Second waves and whatnot. Although that Fauci guy recently said that we haven’t even made it past the first wave yet, regardless of what your friendly Russian bots are assuring you of.

Sigh!

I wish they had a vaccine for Covid-19. Shoot it in Samson’s leg! My leg too. Fire away. Let’s be done with this.

***

It’s the kids, stupid. Pooping in potties. Getting shots. Watching Spongebob. Going for walks. These are the things that concern me right now.

Yes, I make space to work. To write. To do virtual improv. To write this public journal entry. To continue being an assistant professor at THE Pennsylvania State University, Altoona campus. There’s tenure to chase. And being a scholar requires time. And quiet. And focus. These things are in short supply, but I keep at it. And Katie continues to fight the good fight. She’s six years into raising Solomon and Samson. She’ll be canonized when all is said and done.

So that’s where I’m at.

One more thing before I call it quits this week. Samson’s poop was seriously one of the most disturbing things I’ve seen. It was the size of a battleship.

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