Wednesday, April 30, 2014


Luke & Dad’s Seventh Year and a Quarter

In close relationships, personal interplay often falls into patterns that become etched into stone. These grooves have surprising gravity veering one into repeated behavior you aim to steer clear of. You helplessly watch yourself slip down a worn path despite yourself.

My interactions with you are paved with a maze of these sticky behavior patterns. Let’s take mealtimes. For you, like me, eating is a chore — in my old age that might be changing — and, like me, you become agitated if you don’t eat enough protein. Thus, you avoid the distraction of supper only to turn into a Tasmanian Devil!

Fearful of emerging horns, I routinely find myself badgering you to eat, knowing full well how annoying it is, to avoid the transmogrification. Of course, I tell myself to let you be and allow you to starve. Why not batten down the hatches, let the storm pass and hope a new day of hunger will drive you to eat next time? Because I can’t fight the groove and I’m afraid of the monster, that’s why.

Another sequence we fall into rises from your aversion to transitions. You are homebody. Many a great plan has dissolved in the face of your resistance, only to replaced by another Lukanese complaint:

“I’m bored dad!”

What follows is a drawn out process of finding your shoes, administering said shoes, steering you to the car all while weathering withering protest! Of course, once we arrive at the destination and stay the course ... I can’t get you to leave.

A third pattern involves your distaste for sleep. Where Cash crashes in minutes, you fight tooth and nail to avoid the pillow. As I’ve covered in prior blogs, putting you to bed is a slog, containing you to bed is impossible, and your escapes show such creativity that I suspect the same imagination is painting the dark scary. I definitely made you watch Lord of the Rings too early in life. Or, perhaps like me, you just don’t want the party to end.

Anyway, the sleep issue is vexing because not only do you hate going to (or staying asleep), you also don’t like anyone else to sleep. I can’t count how many times I’m slipping into slumber only to lurch awake because your head pops into our bedroom. Even worse, you often wake at o’dark thirty and pitter-patter around the house turning me downright murderous.

Recently, instead of waking to shuffling around, I heard muffled speeches and cheers. What I learned then and there was that, unlike most of our family members, you had decrypted how to use our media controller (once known as a remote, soon to be our phones). The TV was on and you were lounging potato style.

Incredulous, it took me a moment to gather myself. I was interrupted as you looked over your shoulder and said, 

“Dad, you should be flippin houses.”

Armando Montelongo's infomercial was (pseudo) educating you on real estate.

“Dad, you could make thirty-five thousand dollars. Buy the book.”

This would be tolerable if Armando was the only screen-related problem in the house. Instead, screen devices -- any iPhone, iPad, iMac, iTV, iWhatever -- are the enablers of the most frustrating of all my behavioral Groundhog Day (see the movie) traps. If I leave any of device out of my sight for more than one second, the iWhatever disappears.

The cause for disappearances are never clear. My friends describe me as an absent-minded professor, which in operation means quite the opposite, but in either case I’m not paying much attention to my immediate surroundings and where I put things. I’ve adopted mechanisms, like designated areas for day-to-day items, hoping that habit will automatically put devices in the right resting places, areas I call “target spots”.

When things do go missing, I can never ascertain whether the cause is me or the infestation of Sneaky Screen Snatchers in our house. I have, in embarrassingly dramatic ways, wrongly accused members of the SSS of theft, only to discover an iWhatever in my pocket.

To make matter worse, the SSS is waging an intelligence war to uncover my target spots. If there is an iWhatever disappearance, I can never be sure whether poor iWhatever placement was the cause or whether a target area has been compromised.

I'm sinking into a whirling vortex of search and rescue, interrogation, and paranoid target area readjustment which in turn disrupts the habit forming necessary to prevent me from misplacing the iWhatever to begin with.

Along with the loss of my iWhatevers goes my mind.