Saturday, August 3, 2013

Changing Channels

            We have an expression around the house called “Channeling Bob.” It occurs during instances where I am acting like the Big Guy and it happens more frequently than I sometimes realize. My sister points it out to me frequently which amuses me because I see her “channeling” as well. At this point, I guess it’s obvious where we get out temperament from.

            In our eyes, the Big Guy was named Robert and we liked it that way. Yet somehow in his professional library world, Robert became “Bob.” Robert was the guy who took us out hiking, made funny faces at passing cars on the seven hour ride to Savannah, and acted more like a kid at Christmas than my sister and I did.

            Bob was the other side of the coin. He popped up during times of frustration or our misbehavior. Bob was moody with the ability to lash out without warning. Bob was always right no matter what evidence I’d bring to the table. Bob was the guy who wouldn’t let it drop that I gave up playing varsity basketball so I could join the school paper and write which was my dream.

In my fifteen year old mind, Bob was a difficult man to deal with. So much in fact, every August, I’d walk down to the Irvine Sullivan Library at which the Big Guy ran and checked out their copy of The Great Santini. It was my introduction to Conroy and gave me great comfort to read about Ben Meecham dealing with his larger than life Marine pilot Dad whom also had a dark side.

The summer has had some serious ups and downs. It’s a short break for me. I got out in the middle of June and go back the first week of August. After last year, as much time as I can get has been needed to shake off the “stink.” Kim has had an almost Greek epic quest in her job search which has paid off but it’s been tight. She actually starts today full time at the Savannah Morning News. I am so proud of her.

We’ve been dealing with court ordered family stuff all summer too as well as preparing to go back to deal with some issues regarding Kim’s credit at no fault of her own . Kim and I make an outstanding team but when a situation cuts this close to our family, it wears on the nerves. No worries, we’ve made it through because we work together but it doesn’t change how we have been put in some ludicrous situations that just make me shake my head. I’d say more but got leave something for that book I’m going to write one day. Wink. Wink.

With Kim working, I’ve been staying at home with the kids to play Mr. Mom. I’ve enjoyed my summer with Roni and Jude but it has begun to wear on us all. Their friends have been gone all summer and we could only afford one camp apiece so they’ve been getting pretty bored. I now understand why parents are so happy when kids go back to school. Lol

The kids are great but I do spend a fair amount of the day trying to find ways to keep them busy and productive so boredom doesn’t sink in. True irony here lays in my avoiding the use on my beloved Xbox360 or any other computer devices. If the kids get on there too early, the games turn their will to be creative to mush.

I’ve also instated chores to be done to get Roni and Jude not only to pitch in but start learning about responsibility. Fortunately, I have Lord of the Rings Legos as my carrot on a stick. Otherwise, nothing would get done.

But I am my father’s son. Along with the good natured and enormous desire to be the best husband and step-dad I can be, comes the baggage of channeling Bob.

Bob has been popping up this past week. My tolerance has been chipped away by the frustrations of not finding a tour guide position. I always get antsy this time of year as I wait to see what the school has deemed my subjects to teach this year and with whom. It’s frustrating to be stuck teaching special ed in a classroom where the teacher doesn’t want you to co-teach and I know nothing about the subject. The finances have been driving me nuts due to an ancient AC unit which was just replaced and stupid court costs for a credit card situation that Kim got stuck into.

            Last week, all those things began to mount on top of cabin fever. The kids are kids. Kids will do as little as possible so they can do the fun things. I know this. I have been dealing with this since 1986. Yet some reason, everything with them drove me nuts. Dishes were put up dirty which are a big no-no in our house. Clothes were shoved into dressers and not neatly. Towels on the floor. You get the idea.

            Our roles began to change in the house which was a bit of blow to the ol’ manhood and male pride. I began to notice situations where Kim was the heavy while the kids ignored me. It’s usually the other way around. Of course, I attacked in a mature and professional manner.

            I gripped tighter.

            Things got worse and Bob began to run the show.

            Channeling Bob is not like any regular form of possession where eventually I come “to” and have no idea what has occurred. Nope. During any rants or raving, I am fully aware there is a crazy man running the show because I am there watching and listening. I just feel powerless to do anything because that means you are wrong. And you’re never wrong.

            Which sounds just like something Bob would say and it brings me back to myself.

            It’s been a hard line to walk lately and to always be honest on here; I haven’t been doing my best.

            This parenting thing is crazy. I’ve always had mad respect for any single mom raising kids on their own. My close friend, Janelle Law, taught me that lesson many years ago and it’s carried through to my amazing wife who can do anything, Kim. This summer has reinforced that respect to a deeper appreciation of what moms bring to the table. I can barely do this with the two of us. I am amazed at you ladies who have done it on your own. Thank you.

            The Big Guy was my biggest influence in my life. I’ve come to realize this as I write more and more.  You take the good and you have to take the bad. Bob could be a bit of a tyrant and very difficult to live with at times. Looking back, I know it’s obvious he wanted me to be a good man and I strive to do just that for myself and as an example to the kids.

            Part of being a man is more than just living by an example. It’s about also recognizing when you are wrong, admitting it, and them moving on by trying to do better. Kim and I had a long “discussion” over this. In retrospect, I was becoming very short with the kids and also with her.  Even though I recognize my shortness combined with a dash of being moody, I know it will never just go away.

            I always tell my kids that it’s OK to be angry when something doesn’t go your way but it’s not OK to take it out on those around you. It would appear the tables have been turned on me and now I get to practice what I preach. And one thing I’ve learned with my love of the TV watching that if you don’t like the show, turn the channel. Sorry, Bob……

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