Thursday, July 30 2020

summer bedtime, coffee headaches, k'nex, and hash



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Dear Journal,

Good morning, everyone! Happy Thursday. I'm coming to you today semi-live from my dining room computer, and from here I can hear a ruckus of toys and trucks rolling around Rodney's room. Paradoxically, he's been falling asleep later in the evening and waking up earlier in the morning.

Last night as I was tidying up the house before hanging out with Marissa, I heard the pages of a book turn as I passed Rodney's bedroom. Feeling very clever for catching Rodney in the act of playing with something in bed, I leaned into this door and scolded him.

"No books in bed, Rod," I called into his room. "Go to sleep." Marissa found me a few minutes later.

"So I let him read in bed," said Marissa. "I think it's cute when he falls asleep with a book. If he wants to flip through books on nights where he's not feeling tired, I'm fine with that. But If you don't agree, we can - you know - sync up on it."

I suddenly felt terrible - hawkish and curmudgeonly. Is there anything sadder than a kid getting yelled at for something they thought was allowed? I leaned into Rodney's room to make things right.

"Hey dude, are you up?" I asked. Rodney's head shot up. "Daddy's sorry, dude. You can read books - that's fine. Here, which book were you reading?"

"I was just reading Hop on Pop a little bit," said Rodney, rubbing his eyes. I plucked the book from his shelf and tossed it to him.

"Thanks Dad," said Rodney sleepily. "Hey, mosquito bites are kinda pretty itchy." Marissa, listening from outside the door, joined us in his room with the mosquito bite kit, and now with his bedroom light on and the dogs romping playfully on his rug, you would think it was the middle of the day.

"Dude, do you even have a bedtime anymore?" I teased.

"Still good parents," said Marissa, like a legal disclaimer on the home video I was making.

Even though Rodney won't be in school anytime soon, I'm still prone to follow the unspoken rules of summer and school year. In the summer, bedtime is a little more relaxed. I'm even pushing the bounds of my own bedtime, staying up until 1 or 2 in the morning and padding things with a long nap in the afternoon.

Sip. How are you feeling this Thursday? Have some coffee on hand? Speaking of coffee, I learned something interesting about myself. I get headaches from drinking old coffee. We order these five pound bags of coffee from our favorite roaster off the Internet, and for the past three batches without fail, the tail end of the final Ziploc bag of beans leaves me with a low-grade hangover like headache all day. In that way, I'm like a whiny human litmus test for coffee quality. When the headache hits, I know it's time to toss the rest of the batch and open up the new bag. This morning, drinking coffee made from a newly opened bag of beans has made a world of difference.

But yesterday's headache was nothing that a lunchtime beer couldn't handle. After polishing off a crisp Amstel Light with a grilled cheese sandwich, I was back to cleaning and entertaining Rodney. Yesterday, Rodney followed me around while I picked up an odd job for Marissa, sawing the top pieces of wood off the new slats we installed. And while I was outside, I noticed a package on our front porch.

"Ooh, I think there is a present for you Rodney," I said, dragging the heavy box in. In my head, I was sure it was the extra k'nex pieces we ordered for his collection. My excitement rubbed off on Rodney, and throwing the box onto the dining room table he began to eagerly circle, waiting for me to cut it open.

"Get excited, dude," I said, sliding my knife underneath the tape. I flipped the lid open. Four bags of medium grain Calrose rice. I began to laugh.

"BUBBLE WRAP," said Rodney, gently pulling the inflated plastic out of the box.

"That's right, dude," I said. "The prize was bubble wrap. And white rice. Still a good dad."

My head-fake was saved when the actual box of k'nex arrived from a different mail carrier just a few hours later. After we had finished lunch, we dumped the new k'nex pieces onto the kitchen table. We've built some pretty cool things using kits and manuals, but I think Rodney appreciated having extra instructionless pieces around for freestyling - building swords, sticks, and silly balloon like add-ons to his car and crane.

"I think we need more k'nex," I said to Marissa.

"More?" she laughed.

I shook my head. "Everyone knows you need at least enough pieces to build a tower that reaches the ceiling. And we're not quite there yet." We'll see how long I can keep this k'nex collecting scam up - I will keep you all updated.

We made hash for dinner. As Rodney tossed a frisbee around the kitchen and dining room, I did my best to thin out our crisper, which was bursting with aging vegetables crying out to be eaten. Hash isn't the prettiest meal on our menu. But when it comes to smuggling off cuts and leftovers onto the table, no meal does it better. A half of a yellow onion. A dried out leek. Cabbage, with the grey pieces shaved off.

And hash is a funny meal because it's easy to make, but it takes an excruciatingly long time. Even though it takes very little effort to toss the pile of cubed potatoes every few minutes, the meal can take up to two hours to finish, depending on how many potatoes I use. As a result, hash making involves cleaning my kitchen too, and by the time dinner is served, I've already wiped down the counters, emptied the garbage, cleaned out the vegetable drawer, and finished my Dutch lesson.

"I really pushed the limits of my pan today," I said, sitting down to eat. "I used six potatoes all together. By the time I had everything in the pan, I think it weight like ten pounds."

I acted out my best impression of a strained, two handed toss of a heavy pan. Marissa and Rodney began to chuckle.

"Seriously, I think my arms are sore," I said.

Thanks for stopping by today. I hope you have a great Thursday.