Sunday, October 22, 2017

"If it's not your butt, don't touch it"

Everyone just ignore my obvious face cancer, doc says it's an overactive parotid gland. 

“I’ll be right back,” I said. “I’m going to shred some chicken for tacos.” 

“That’s fine,” Tye replied. “Throw some in a box and mail it to me.” 

I laughed and muted my gaming headset, mostly because of the ridiculous stuff that gets said in this house, and because Alicia won’t let me have a private gaming room where that stuff won’t get heard. 

I shredded the chicken and came back to a chuckling clan mate. 

“I just heard the best advice,” he said, barely able to speak through his laughter. “Your wife said, ‘If it’s not your butt, don’t touch it.’” 

“Kids,” was my succinct and exasperated reply. 

I’ve really got to make sure I start hitting the mute button better. 

•••

It’s 9:30 a.m. on a Sunday morning, and we’re not in church because I had photography plans today that were canceled by the rain. Somewhere, Brian Sloat is upset about that. 

Isaac woke up at 5:45 this morning, ready to start his day, and quite offended that the rest of us weren’t ready to start ours. He made this known through noises that, thankfully, I’m too deaf to hear, but I got up with Alicia anyway and headed to the living room. 

She fed him, then he griped until she stood him up and let him watch me play Destiny. I looked over at him, and he smiled. He smiled so wide he almost lost his pacifier, but he didn’t. He grinned at me every single time I glanced over for a solid ten minutes. It was inspiration an to me. 

“I will write,” I said to myself, “about baby smiles this morning. I will compare them to something also wonderful, and make the kind of allusions that will undoubtedly go viral on the social media.” 

My Muse was smiling at me, happiness personified, a very fat cherub with more chins than wings. It was a moment. 

I didn’t get up and write immediately, of course. I was in a game, trying to level up a character. I couldn’t quit then. 

The thought of the blog stayed with me for an hour or so, and from time to time I would formulate little ideas of how I would word things — powerful adjectives; not too heavy on the adverbs; and all of the other little things writers like to do when they’re putting something off. 

Then it happened. The 8 a.m. fight between Alicia and one of the boys, this time Aven. My Muse vanished, not a tangible thing after all, definitely not a smiling infant with drool running down his chins. 

•••

For the last couple of months, Drake has been a complete nightmare. We’re talking a “there’s a new hole in his bedroom wall because he chucked his bed frame (he’s five) into the sheetrock during a fit” nightmare. It was bad. After speaking with his doctor, the conclusion was drawn that part of his brain is underdeveloped due to drugs consumed in utero. 

He prescribed some ADHD medication that worked well with Aven. It did not work well for Drake. After a couple of weeks of tantrums and biting, a second doctor’s appointment was scheduled and a new medication prescribed. It’s working wonders. 

•••

I’m going to stop right there and talk a out something that is going to piss a lot of people off. I’m also going to use some language that might piss some folks off. I’m not here to apologize, and if you happen to be one of the pissed off folks, then I want you to do me a favor. Shut the browser down, and take ten minutes to think about it. Process it. I can promise you it took me longer than that to write and edit it. 

The kids’ bio family reads these blogs. They follow me on Facebook, and more than likely they are reading these words right now. They had to read that little bit up there about the drugs. 

I’m going to restate that: Drake’s biological mother just had to read that decisions she made as a nineteen-year-old have affected her child’s brain. 

Darlin’, if you’re reading this, I didn’t type it to make you feel bad. In fact, I want to tell you a story. 

The other day, Alicia texted me about the whole thing while she was at the doctor with Drake. She ended without blaming anyone. She told me about the medication he’d be taking and that was it. I was angry, and in anger I banged out a reply. 

“Fuck her,” I wrote. “Fuck her and her stupid ass decisions.” 

Drake caught this and then was scared to death to touch it. It's a lot like my wedding night.
My thumb hovered over the “send” button, but I didn’t press it. I still don’t know why. An incremental move to the left, a double tap, “select all,” and “cut” were pressed instead. I never sent that message. I’m done blaming you. You were young and dumb, and I’ve done plenty of dumb shit. I have had an affair. I did irreparable damage to my marriage and my relationship with my wife. I should have been divorced. However, I was shown grace. That grace led to us adopting three children. Those three children came to us swimming in the dumb shit that both you and I did. 

Grace hosed them off. 

It’s a hose I have to get under every day. There’s a long way to go before I forgive you completely, but anytime you want to use that hose…I invite you to it. 

•••

Drake has gotten better. However, Aven has stepped back up to the plate, doing his best to make everyone around him as angry as he is. He’s hateful, he’s sneaky, and he’s deceitful. We’ve basically taken our foot off of the brake and pushed on the gas, only to find out that some horrible mechanic has swapped our gas pedal for another brake. 

Things are not okay at the Sloat house. We’re covered in brake fluid and ADHD medication, pumping brake pedals like they belong to a vehicle in a Carrie Underwood song. The resulting collisions leave us covered in the viscous lifeblood of relationships with our children, our friends, and the people we work with. 

Grace keeps hosing us off. 

Photographer is Mandy Lundy, and she's incredible. Go check her out. 
I started this blog eight years ago with a simple purpose: I wanted to make you laugh. If I could go back in time and read all of these blogs before I posted them, I’m not sure my purpose would still have been the same. One thing is for sure, I never would have believed any of them actually would come true. Yet here I am; here we are; and this is reality: 

“If it’s not your butt, don’t touch it.” 

“You’ve been acting like a dickhead for the last two weeks.” 

“If I was Jesus I’d hide in the dark.” 

“I’ll have sex with you if you fix dinner and clean some stuff tomorrow.” 

“Those sweats make him look like he’s smuggling grapes.” 

“Maybe one day we’ll all die and then you can be happy.” 

“Yep, thank God. I’m gonna go get Taco Bell.” 

“I’m getting the kids McDonald’s because of their shots.” 

“Our children are stupid.” 

Maybe you’re laughing at us. Maybe you’re crying for us. Maybe you’re angry at us. It doesn’t matter. 

When you’re ready, just motion for us to scooch over, and we’ll make room for you under the hose. Until then, if it's not your butt, don't touch it. 

“Why do You even love me? 
Why do You even care? 
Why should You think of me? 
Oh my God, I’ll never know. 
Fire emoji times a million. 
It’s unconditional love,
The Grace Flood.” 

        - "Grace Flood" The OC Supertones