Monday, September 24, 2012

My Heroin Addiction

I have a confession. I'm addicted to heroin.

I have been for some time. It started when I was 15 and visiting a friend. Their parents were not home, of course.
Okay, it’s heroin. It just feels like heroin, at least as far as the cravings and horrible withdrawals. Really, my monkey is nicotine. Now that I am taking another stab at quitting, it certainly feels like a heroin addiction. 

Smoking negatively impacts the boys, something I refuse to acknowledge much like a heroin addict ignores consequences. Glenn has already asked if he could have one, and then used a stick to pretend to smoke.  Jackson will find my lighter in the morning and bring it to me. Worse, if I pick up my cigs, Jackson knows to head to the front door.
(Lights a cigarette) (Uh, I’m trying to quit smoking. Not quite there yet)

Last week, I was outside smoking, while Glenn was in timeout, and Jackson was playing.  It has never really bothered me to step away; it’s not like I am any closer if I’m inside.  While I was outside, I hear Jackson start screaming.  If you don’t have kids, it’s hard to explain, but they have different screams.  This one was, clearly, serious, and, since Glenn was in time out, I knew it wasn’t just fighting.  When I come around the corner, Jackson is smearing blood across his chest.  Blood is defiantly one of those bodily fluids they don’t tell you about before you have kids.  It was just small little nick on his finger, and it looked as if he had been shot in the stomach.  With Glenn, this would have freaked me out, but, being the consummate professional, I cleaned the cut and used my first aid knowledge.  While I was doing this, I handed Glenn a wet towel and told him to start cleaning the blood off the floor.  He suggested that maybe we call mom, and I told him if he did a good enough job cleaning, we wouldn’t have to do that at all.  If only I didn’t have the heroin habit, maybe Jackson would have avoided his first bloodletting.
Being at home certainly hasn't helped. I take lots of smoke breaks. You know, so the boys get their outside time. It doesn't really matter though; I would let any situation be an excuse to smoke more. That’s part of the addiction.

The truth is it’s just too damn expensive. There is just no way to justify the costs to Tracey.  Figure $7 bucks a day. Yes, I’m a pack a day smoker. So, 7*7=49/week * 52 = $2548 each year.  Are you serious??? That means over the last 15 years, I have spent more than $35,000, otherwise known as a really bad ass car...
So now all that is left is to do it. Some advice for Tammi, and anyone who might know someone addicted to Heroin.

#1.  Don’t ask me how quitting smoking is going.  Listen, for 15 years I have programmed my brain to have a smoke — when I get up, after I eat, when I have a drink, and while driving.  I do not need you reminding my brain it would prefer to be smoking.
2#. If you smoke, and I ask for a smoke, either do it or don’t.  I’m not your monkey, and I won’t dance.  Besides after I fail, you will try to quit and I’ll be right there with my smokes.

3#.  Don’t Judge me.  This week I sold my son a cookie for a dollar from his piggy bank.  I was short on a pack of smokes, and he wanted a cookie.  If I wanted your judgment, than I will ask for it.  Prior to having the smoking funds cut off, I told Tammi to hide the credit cards and take our change to the bank.
4#.  If I ask you to come over because I am about to shake the kids, I am not joking.

5# I know I’m being a dick, I’m sorry.  Treat me like you would a seven-month pregnant lady.  Put your kid gloves on and handle with care.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Sleeping In

This morning was my day to sleep in. 

Now in the past, this would have meant noon or even later.  After Glenn, it meant 9 a.m.  After Jackson, it meant 8 a.m.  This morning, it meant I got up at 6:30 a.m. to let the dogs out.  Then, I got to sleep peacefully while complete chaos raged in the living room.  At one point, Jackson stood outside my door repeatedly crying, “Daddy!”
This past couple of weeks, Tammi has been working constantly.  Today, she finished day 12 of 12 days in a row. When she started her marathon stretch, I was concerned about her working so much.  Tammi comes from a long line of workaholics.  I used to be one myself, but those days are well over.  It had not occurred to me that her stretch of working would affect me as well.  Yet, sure enough, by about day seven, I began to notice I was very tired by extension. 

And I’m tired enough with my own “job” so I don’t need to borrow her exhaustion, not that everyone believes I even have a job. Most people assume I stay home because I am lazy (which I’m not) or we are loaded (which we are not).  Most people don’t have any experience staying home as an adult and cannot relate to people who do. 
Honestly, I don’t really consider it a “real” job, either. 

What makes a job real?  I think staying at home is very similar to being a student.  Sure it is work, and it is hard, but unless you punch the clock, it is not a real job.  From talking to others, there are two parts of a “real” job — the time clock and a paycheck.  Ironically, if I worked from home as a reservationist or for a dot com, it would be more of a real job than raising the kids. Many do make the argument that it is harder than working outside of the home, but so far that’s not the belief of the majority.
Trying to explain what it is like working at home to a person without kids is like trying to explain winter to a Texan or summer to a Sconnie (someone from Wisconsin.)  They both say the same thing, “It gets cold/hot here as well.”  As if a Texan can even begin to understand what a Wisconsin winter is like.  Once you stray too far from what people know, then they stop being capable of understanding.

So do I get days off?  Well, no, but yes…well I don’t know.  If you work under the premise that my, “job” is to take care of the kids, then Tammi being home doesn’t change that.  She certainly makes it much easier.  It is always easier when you can play man-to-man instead of zone, defense.  You wouldn’t consider it a work day for Tammi, so why would you consider it for me? This really gets to the crux of the argument.  How can I have a job, if everyone else considers it a day off?  My job is to be a parent; I just spend more time doing it than others.  My “real” job is a part-time, off-hours, front desk clerk. I count what we used to pay the baby sitter, and I do well enough to feel good about myself. 

What are your thoughts?  I go back and forth.  I say that staying at home is not a “real” job, but it certainly contains aspects of work.  Moreover I feel the need to defend that I do have a real job. I believe I’m contributing in a positive and significant manner to our household — that what I do has definable value unrelated to a pay check — but I was not raised with this belief so sometimes I feel an internal struggle.  Being a stay-at-home parent goes beyond a traditional eight-hour work day, encompasses more responsibility and job hats than a normal job but doesn’t come with a paycheck, so we, as a society, don’t value it as much as an out-of-home job.  I would also say that being a mom also is Tammi’s job, it’s just not her only job.
So why did this morning go so awry?  Tammi had been working for 12 straight days.  She no longer knew the kid’s routine.  Kids crave consistency. So when Tammi changed that routine, they both reacted as if she had cut off their hands.  She made Glenn go to the bathroom before getting dressed, instead of right before school.  Why was Jackson crying at my door for twenty minutes?  He likes to eat a handful of Cheerios with his milk.  I may not have a job, but at least I’m good at the one I don’t have.  Also it sure is nice to have Tammi back, and great to get to sleep in, even if it was during the apocalypse.

Monday, September 10, 2012

How to put your Pants on

For a brief moment this week, the temperature finally dropped below a gazillion degrees. This is important because it means I can once again take the boys outside after naptime.  The 3:30 to 5 p.m. hour is always a little touch and go.  The ability to take the boys outside makes for a much easier day. 
While we were outside, Glenn told me he needed to go pee.   Like any other father, I pointed out the tree around the corner and told him to go to town.  A few moments, later I heard him crying for help.  He comes waddling around the corner, pants around his ankles, asking me to pull up his pants.   It was the perfect opportunity to share a life lesson. 

“Glenn, if you take your pants down, then no one else is going to pull them up for you.” 
And after a bit of struggling, he did manage to get himself together. 

I think of myself as “base” in the game of tag.  I’m a safe spot, we can talk about what just happened, but if you want to have more fun, you’re going to need to take chances.   As they grow older, they should become more and more confidant, needing to come back to base less and less.  It’s important for them to feel loved and safe or, when they turn 15, you won’t be seeing them for some time. 

As their emotional base, I try to, more than anything, just to identify their emotions.  I say things like; “You look upset. What made you sad? That would bother me too.” 
Alas, they are both still very young, and when they struggle or get upset, it will just deteriorate into outright screaming.   Usually, here I use the “non-time out-time out,” which sounds something like this. 
“Listen Glenn, I can tell you’re upset, and it is ok to be mad, but if you’re going to sit there and scream like an ass, then you need to go to your room, until you calm down.”
Tammi and I believe fully in making our children struggle.  If today, I’m pulling up his pants, tomorrow I’m completing his English homework.  Then, before you know it, I’m on the phone with his parole officer.

Life is hard, and it’s meant to be.  If we protect our children from every hardship, we are not doing them any favors.  The more they can struggle under our supervision, the better they will be prepared to face challenges in adulthood. 

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Keeping Score

Football season is upon us, and everyone should rejoice. 
Anyone who knows me, knows how much I enjoy sports in general, and fantasy football in particular.  No, I am not going to make you sit and read about my pretend football team.  Just know I’m great at pretend games. There is only one downside to playing fantasy football, and that is draft day.

 Tammi hates it. 
Every year, there is an argument over how I spend my time.  In her defense, I do spend more than an appropriate amount of time on the computer during football season.  I argue that greatness is something we must prepare for, but she doesn’t get it.  Sometimes I win and sometimes I lose the fight, but, ultimately, even when I win, I lose.  So without further ado, some of my favorite fantasy football draft day fights.

About three weeks before draft day, I’ll spend my time running “mock drafts.” I learn what players I like, and where they are going.  Really, 85% of this is completed while Tammi is either working or asleep.  She would never know I do mock drafts, except that I am usually skirting other responsibilities in order to complete them.  As she put is once, “So you didn’t do the dishes because you were playing a pretend version of your pretend game.”
As draft day approaches, I try to give her reminders.  “Tammi, from 7 to 9 p.m. Sunday, I will only be available if the house is on fire.  Otherwise leave me alone.”

So, as our first draft day approached, (we did not have kids yet) I felt confident she understood the ground rules.  An hour before the draft actually starts, I learn my draft position and begin game planning.  Tammi is in the other room watching TV, and I can feel her frustration growing.  I am on and off the phone with friends and generally ignoring her completely.  When I hear the bath water running, my first thought is positive. Great, she is taking a nice, relaxing bath.  Then, I see her take Bacchus into the bathroom.  Bacchus (RIP) was my pit bull who weighed 40 lbs of complete muscle.  When scared, I could barely contain him.  Although very small by pit bull standards, he was very, very strong.  I hear her try to get him into the bath, struggle to keep in the bath, and a steady stream of vulgarity that Tammi excels at spewing.  With about ten minutes till the draft, Tammi comes out of the bath.  She is soaking wet head to toe and obviously upset.
“Aren’t you going to help me, give your dog a bath?”

Equally frustrated, I share my displeasure, walk into the bathroom, grab Bacchus by the collar and let him outside.  “There. Bath time is over.”
 Draft day fights Craig 0 – Tammi 1

The following year, the draft is inconveniently set for an hour before Glenn would go to bed.  Once again, the draft position comes out an hour before, and I begin setting my draft strategy.  While I am talking on the phone and drinking, I hear Tammi going through Glenn’s bedtime routine.  First dinner, than bath, then some cartoon time, followed by a story and bed.  By the time he is laid down, the draft is almost half over.  Tammi, with her typical draft-day face, comes out and lets me know what for.
“Next year you’ll schedule the draft for after Glenn’s bedtime…Jesus Christ Craig.”

“Absolutely,” I say. “We would have done so this year, but one of the teams is in out of the country, fighting for your freedom. I’ll make sure to let him know how important it is we wait until after bedtime.”
 Craig 1 – Tammi 1

This year, I am finally back in Texas, and, although we didn’t have time to set up a live draft, we will be doing that next year.  I can only imagine what she will say then.  Tammi came home from work while I was still drafting and started huffing and puffing.  After the draft was over, I let her know I was going over to my sister’s house.  When she asked why, I told her it was either that or I sit on the phone with my friends.  About thirty minutes after I was there, I got a text from her.  “When did you start enjoying hanging out with others more than me?”
Come on Tammi, really, your not even going to start with a warning shot.  Just take out a knife and go for the heart.  I gotta go guys.

Craig 1- Tammi 2

Sunday, September 2, 2012

A Brief History (Part One)

I am not certain ya’ll are aware, but I’m not famous. 

I certainly don’t have a well-paying job, and you have never seen me on CNN. Most of you knew “Old Craig,” and some of you even know “Stay-at-Home Craig.”  So I thought it would be helpful to give you a brief idea of how I wound up in this mess in the first place. Mostly, I don’t have anything to write about tonight.  Also, if I could be allowed a bit of hubris, let’s assume there will eventually be people who read this who have no idea who I am.  So, from time to time, I’ll provide you with a bit of a history lesson, which will most often coincide with writer’s block.

My name is Craig.  I am 32 years old.  I have a lovely wife Tammi and two little ones. Glenn is three and Jackson is 18 months.  I work part time at a hotel, and my wife is a veterinarian.  We just moved here from Wisconsin.  I say “just,” but what I mean is…never move your family across the country unless you are absolutely sure about moving, and you clearly understand the size of the endeavor you are undertaking.  I got here in January, and it is now September. I think we are just now starting to settle in.  When we started to plan the move, I can’t believe how naive we were at the time.  Once operation “Move across the Country” was a go, I naively posted on Facebook.

                Status: goals for 2012: sell the house, buy a house, transport family down to Texas, get two jobs, and start trying to get pregnant.

What a D-Bag.  As if moving my family for no other reason than I like it here was not enough, I went ahead and threw on the pressure of a third baby. 

Here are the brass tacks of the situation.  In December, my company invited me to leave or, rather, strongly encouraged me to depart.  At the time, I already had one foot out the door. You think that affected my performance, hmm?  So, at the turn of the New Year, I got in my car and drove to Texas, leaving behind my wife and kids. They couldn’t leave until the house sold.  I left an hour after sunrise and made it to Tulsa, Oklahoma about an hour after sunset.  Two days after I got here, I nabbed a job waiting tables.  Seriously, tip your waiters.  I have never been the type of person to doubt my decision- making skills.  Trust me when I say this – nothing says you’ve made a mistake louder than busting your ass SERVING people, while surrounded by lazy co-workers, and earning $2.13 an hour.  At least I was home, I told myself.  Well, at least I was sleeping in my sister and brother in law’s spare room.

In the middle of February, Tammi came down for a visit with the boys.  Thus commenced four days of interviewing and house hunting for my wife.  Tammi is a BADASS, so, of course, three out of the four places offered her a job.  But, with our house in WI still on the market, we were doing little more than browsing.  Our realtor, Carolyn, was amazing.  I had to preview houses for Tammi to see before her trip and continued to preview after.  When Tammi came down in February, I had seen 55 houses.  I had 13 for her to see.  By the time we finally put an offer in, I had seen 85.  I never want to buy a house again. 

Tammi went back to WI with Jackson, but left Glenn in TX with me.  Having him in TX really made things so much easier.  Well, they made them a lot harder, but I was glad to have it. I cannot tell you how lonesome I was for my family.  During the SuperBowl, before they visited, Glenn asked me, “Did you find a house yet?”

I said no. 

He asked me, “Why?”

 I gave a very poor answer.  He told me, “Just keep trying because, then, you can come pick me up.” 

When he came down, he crashed with my sister as well.  We were returning home from errands, and he asked, “Where are we going?”  I told him home. 

He told me in a very matter-of-fact tone, “No, Dad, we are going to Ellena and Ryan’s house.  We don’t have a home.” 

By this time, I gained a manager position at a hotel and began working full time again.  But, by the middle of March, Tammi and I pulled the plug.  With the house in Wi still on the market, I flew to WI to go and get them.  We were getting so much activity on the house, something had to happen soon. Right? 

My friend, John, flew up with me and was a life saver. It would not have been possible to move everyone without him.  We finished packing the house in two days and started driving.  What took me by myself a day and a half, took three adults, two dogs, a cat, and an 18 month old three-and-a-half days.  But at least we were home.  Well, at least we were all together and crashing at my sister and brother-in-laws spare room.  The day we pulled into the driveway, my nephew was born. 

Managing my wife’s stress level was, needless to say, challenging.  After two very long weeks, our house in WI finally sold.   Now, I say this knowing that my nephew and godson had been born two weeks earlier, but, thank you Jesus!!  We put an offer in the very same day, and thirty days later we moved into our new home.

Three months later, I resigned my position at the hotel, and began my new position as Stay-at-Home Craig and part-time, hourly, front-desk clerk.  Better put by my co-workers as Hourly Craig.

If you’re still reading this, than I’m sorry for the long-windedness this week. 

I’m glad that people seem to be enjoying these.  Thank you for the positive comments.  Helps to know people are on the other side of the screen.