I’m Seriously Considering Shipping All of My Kids Off To “Sergeant Bollocks Crusher’s Military School For Discipline & Respect

I got a text from Heather Graham the other day that read “Your son is grounded for life.” A few things struck me as I contemplated this cryptic message. First, why does he always becomes solely the spawn of MY seed when he does anything unspeakably bad as if her actually giving birth to him was no longer relevant to the subject at hand?

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Second: I wondered about the wisdom of grounding him for life. How much of this behavior could I really take and do I want to endure it for another 50 years or so until either I’m dead or I’m too senile to care anymore? Only after I had contemplated these two points was I even mildly curious as to what he actually did.

Sometimes, as a parent…frankly, I don’t really care anymore. The monotony of the routine has dulled my wrath a bit over the years into a steady diet of: first offense =grounded for an hour, second offense = grounded for another hour + loss of video game privileges, third offense = grounded for an hour + loss of video games, Netflix and bike riding for the day and so on and so on. After awhile, I tend to forget what was actually done in the first place. I just can’t keep up.

So, I decided to make a list of just a few of the offenses my children have committed in recent memory. Keep in mind, this is by no means an exhaustive list. Just the ones I could jot down off the top of my head:

1. One sibling smacking another sibling across the face with a lightsaber

2. All three hiding from their mother in the clothes rack of a department store and pretending to have disappeared.

3. One sibling hiding a precious article of personal property belonging to another sibling in an obscure location somewhere in the house, and then forgetting where they hid it.

4. Telling the Gym Coach at school that he “stinks really bad.”

5. Telling a new substitute teacher that “This school was perfect before you were hired.”

6. Stabbing another student in the arm with a pencil. (In my child’s defense, I think he was actually sword fighting with another kid while my son perfected his lunge and parry fencing skills. But the other kid still got stabbed and my son was sent to the Principal’s office)

7. Displaying disrespect to the same Gym Teacher when the class was told to go grab their balls to play a game…and my son obeyed to the letter of the law.

Looking over this list, I’m wondering why in the world anyone would want to buy a book about parenting from my wife and I. Sounds like we are doing a bang up job so far.

But, I soldier on, doing the best job I can with the information I have at the time. There are times as a parent that I’m called to judge a dispute between two or more parties represented in our home. I sit there in my chair and blink at them while a list of offenses are rattled off for me to evaluate. The funny thing is my kids think that I’m actually listening to them, wisely weighing each argument before rendering my ruling. The truth is, I’m feeling like God tricked humanity with this whole “Procreation” thing he designed for a man and a woman to mate. The idea seemed good to me at the time and the act of procreation was great and all, but I think I missed something in the fine print that covered all of this stuff.

Honestly, I’m out of ideas on how to punish my kids anymore, so I could use your help. If anyone has any ideas they would like to share, feel free to reply and toss out your thoughts. I will take the best one and wrap them on tiny 4″ X 2″ strips of paper and fold them into a fishbowl. When my kids do something wrong, they will have to reach into the “Bowl of Sorrows” and pull out their punishment.

I will Tweet a picture of their reaction. (Shameless plug: you will have to follow me on Twitter to catch this)

One of the best ideas I had in awhile came when my son decided to move out of the house. He spewed a litany of charges against his mother and me and declared his independence. He hates me, he hates his mother, and he hates his life, and he just wants to move out on his own and be really happy. Now parent, POP QUIZ: How Do You Respond?

Do you:

A) Ground him for an hour to his room, like we do for every offense?

B) Slap the little urchin until he swallows his own teeth

C) Send him to Grandma’s house for the weekend

D) Tell him “Ok, you can move out and I’ll help you pack.”

I contemplated C for a long time, but my parents wouldn’t return my text. I need to stop beginning texts with “What are y’all doing this weekend?” every time I want them to keep my kids. They have learned and always seem to have something going on. No, I decided on D.

Like I said, why anyone would want to buy my parenting book baffles me.

But perhaps I should explain myself a little bit. I had a very good reason why I chose to help my son find his own place at the age of 10.

You see, a few months ago I taught my son how to grow sugar crystals in a cup with a cotton string. We experimented by adding dye to the water to create all kinds of cool colors that made the crystals look like jewels such as red rubies, clear diamonds and blue sapphires. We even did a batch of green Kryptonite.

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This was a huge hit at school and every kid in the 3rd, 4th and 5th grades wanted one. So, my son started a business and had a waiting list of paying customers. I think the going rate was about $5 per crystal and the kid could have the color of their choice. To a 10-year old, that was like a 6 figure income.

Anyway, he had a steady business going there for a few weeks until the school cracked down on his little sugar crystal ring and closed him down. Evidently, it violated some district code or something. I told Gavin that he couldn’t sell his crystals anymore. To my surprise, he handled the news rather well. I was actually quite proud of him.

I should have known that it was too easy.

A few weeks later, I received a call from the Principal. Gavin had been caught selling crystals again. Evidently, he had been smuggling them in his backpack and selling them for kids’ lunch money at recess.

“But Dad,” he argued with me when I confronted him about it. “I promised my friends I’d deliver their crystals to them before you told me to stop and it takes 3 weeks to grow them.”

“Gavin, it’s against school policy. You can’t do it.”

“Yeah, but now I can get $10 each instead of just $5.”

My son had become the kingpin of the 4th grade.

Not too long after that my son got mad at me for something. I think I did something really bad like made him clean his room. He decided that my home was just too much pressure with all of the rules and expectations. He decided that if he had his own place, he could go to bed when he wanted and could keep his room in whatever condition he felt like. I listened to him rant at me for a minute as he told me all the ways his life would just be better off if he could move out.

This is where I opted for D. I told him “Ok, I’m fine with that but you will have to pay your own rent.”

“I can do that,” he agreed. “I can still sell my crystals.”

“Well,” I reasoned, “You’ve been warned that you can’t do that anymore. If the school found out, they might take all of your money. I’d suggest doing something that won’t leave you broke when your rent is due.”

“I could mow lawns,” he decided.

“Ok, well let’s see what you need to do.” So I took out some paper. “I have a neighborhood company that advertises to mow our lawn for $20, so if you want my business you would have to be lower than that.”

“I’ll do it for $10,” he replied.

“Fine, so you will make $10 per lawn. Now, you are limited in where you can live because you can’t drive yet. So you have to choose one of these luxury apartments by the school so you can still ride your bike.” I helped him look online and the cheapest 1 Bedroom apartments were about $1,200 a month. “Don’t forget about utilities, food and entertainment. I give you all of that here for free, but on your own you’ll have to pick up those costs too. To be safe, I think you will need about $2,000 a month to live.”

I pushed the paper to him. “Now you tell me how many lawns you will have to mow each month to make $2,000.

It took him awhile struggling with basic math to come up with 200.

“Ok, so you will need 200 clients who will let you mow their lawns. That means you will have to knock on doors. In sales, if you have a close rate of 1:10 for cold calling, you are doing well. So figure you will have to knock on 2,000 doors to get 200 people to agree.”

I let that number sink in, but I think I was already overwhelming him. I pushed on:

“Now, once you get 200 clients, it will take you about an hour to mow their lawn, but you still have to go to school, so you can only mow lawns from 4:00 in the afternoon until about 8:00 at night when it gets dark. That only gives you 4 hours each day. If you do this each day after school, you will have 20 houses done. If you work from 8:00 in the morning both Saturday and Sunday and don’t stop until 8:00 at night, you can get another 24 lawns mowed each weekend. That is 44 lawns in a week, multiplied by 4 gives you a total of 176 lawns you can mow in a month to pay your bills.”

My son just looked at me.

I pushed on. “Now, 176 lawns at $10 each will give you $1,760 each month, which still isn’t $2,000. I tell you what, I’ll give you $200 a month to cover the difference-until you are 18-since you are still my son.”

I let this sink into my son for a moment before I finished. “So, you have a choice. You can go to school each morning, and then work every day until dark, never seeing your friends, and work from sun rise until sunset all weekend without ever getting a break…or you can clean your room.”

“You choose.”

My Son Just Tied My Daughter To A Ceiling Fan

So, my wife and I are teaming up to co-author a book idea. Somehow, I got roped into writing a baby manual. Can you believe it? Me, parenting advice? Or, perhaps it’s a marriage guide for disillusioned couples struggling to keep their identity in the middle of a family. I don’t really know. I just write what my wife tells me to write. To sum up a possible tag line: Maintaining a sense of worth while raising children.

Or, to put it another way: “God, I was supposed to change the world, now all I’m changing is this dirty diaper.”

Which is currently our working title, so don’t steal it.

I always thought my first book would be some epic volume I of High Fantasy, not parenting and relationship advice from a male perspective but my wife wants me to add my own unique flare to her otherwise matronly and sensitive approach.

So here I sit, outlining 10 chapters or so. I have a rough sketch, so bare with me, but I’m thinking something like: Finding My Soul Mate With Big Knockers And Long Black/Blonde/Auburn/Red Hair, 2) You Know The Honeymoon Is Over When She Farts In Your Bed and  3) My Son Just Tied My Daughter To A Ceiling Fan.  

My wife just told me ‘no.’ Evidently those will not be the chapter headings of our book.

She said it will be something more like: 1) Finding “the one,” 2) Not so Happily Ever After” and 3) Raising Boys Vs Girls.

I am making light of this, but I am seriously excited as well. I think we will make a dynamic book that will not only be entertaining, but will have some very insightful things to say. As always, I will keep you apprised of our progress.

Check out her blog as well: Heater Graham

Shedbellyfatfast.net LOVED My Last Post!

Remember the other day when I wrote a small blog about the rumors of my demise being greatly exaggerated? As you recall, I found that out by reading through the searches that brought people to my blog. Let me find it for you…here it is: “Aaron Graham Cause Of Death

Then, I launched my NaNoWriMoABaDMamMaJaMa Month off on my own and had a few posts about how well…err…not so well I’ve been doing with my 30 day writing challenge. I posted a few updates about my progress, but I think we’d all agree the past few weeks have not been a shining example of the kind of deep intellectual discussions you faithful readers have come to know and respect from my insightful and well researched posts. Heck, as you recall I totally blew my wife’s snort scale.

Nope. These past two weeks have not been my best work by a long shot. (Although, strangely enough I think I collected 4 more followers…go figure)

But fear not. Just when I might be a little depressed with my writing over the past few weeks, I logged in this morning and decided to read some comments that were pending moderation. Never mind the fact that all of these were found in my spam folder. My ego needed some stroking and since no one has commented on my blog for awhile, I thought it would be good for a “Pick-me-up”

I was not disappointed. Here is what my faithful spam readers felt about my last article when I delved into the scientific formula of my wife’s snot scale:

That was some scholarly article…”

 “There is noticeably a bundle to know about this. I assume you made sure nice points in characteristics also.”

And my personal favorite:

That is exactly what I needed. Tnx for the post. IMHO, other posts are not so interesting. Please don’t be offended, simply try to keep quality at this level.”

Yes, evidently my post about my wife’s snort scale was EXACTLY what Tom Craudfield from Printable Nike Coupons needed this week. (And apparently all my other posts just suck)

Oh, and for your information, the person who thought my Wife’s Snort Scale was “some scholarly article” was from shedbellyfatfast.net.

No kiddin! I would not make up things about people searching Google for my obituary, nor would I tease you about this. (Oh, I just misspelled obituary. So I used Google to help me spell it right and I learned something new. According to the “Urban Dictunary” an “Obitchuary” is a term used to describe a location where the residents will harm a prostitute per a pimp’s request. A ghetto pimp might use it as a noun, as in “Yo, bi#ch, do that again and I’ll send yo’ fat a$$ to the obitchuary!” I suppose this is like a prostitute’s “Time Out Chair.”  Wow…learn something new everyday when you misspell words and search Google for the correct meaning.

And yes…I did originally spell obituary “Hood Style”

But I digress.

As I was saying, those comments so made my day!

Speaking of making my day, I was approached by a friend of mine who asked me if I would be willing to review a book from a friend of hers. Since the ebook is fantasy (and since I know a thing or two about fantasy such as old men in grey beards make great wizards and the little forgotten race of Halflings usually win in the end) she thought I would be a great choice.

I was just flattered that my friend, who is a professional author, remembered my name.

In any event, I have agreed and I look forward to reading it and reviewing it for you here…sometime in the near future.

P.S. I can’t help but think of the final scene in Fan Boys when the Star Wars fans go through 1.5 hours of twists and turns to illegally steal a copy of Episode I so they can see it BEFORE it is released because they otherwise had no life to speak of. The last line of the movie is a panoramic shot of a crowded theatre of excited movie-goers dressed up in various costumes as the lights dim and the Lucusfilms fanfare begins. The crowd goes wild and one of the characters say: “What if the movie sucks?”

BLACKOUT

I donno…you connect the dots. I’m just sayin…

Great Movie For Star Wars Geeks

1,293 Words For NaNo While Failing My Wife’s ‘Snort Scale’

So, my NaNo challenge is on life support. Since November 1st, I have managed 1,293 words. See, this is why I didn’t officially sign up. I knew I would lag behind, but I’m really proud of the short story Iv’e been working on. I think it’s quirky and a little off beat:

Luchet had been Lar’s best friend since they were roommates at the wizard’s academy, but everyone just called him ‘Lunklump.’ He had failed an attempt to blend mechanical gadgets using a sophisticated alchemy spell and accidently bound himself to a chunk of iron. The Grand Wizard of the academy had to perform another spell to separate him from the ore attached to his posterior, but the name ‘Lunklump’ stuck.  

I thought it was funny, anyway.

On Thursday, I read the whole story to my wife and she didn’t even crack a smile. Usually, I can tell when she is really enjoying something I wrote because she spews coffee out of her nose with a sudden guffaw. Of course, I have to clean up the sofa behind her, but it’s well worth it because I know my work is something special.

I call it the “Snort Scale” and my overall score not only determines which of my posts eventually become linked on HER Facebook (a very important marketing tool because she has WAY more friends than I do) but it also gives me a since of accomplishment.

I think my record on the “Snort Scale” was about an 8.7 and I have the coffee stains to prove it.

But to not even register a smirk? That is like a pitiful 2.4.

“You don’t seem to like it,” I asked her when I finished.

“It’s not one of your best,” she said with brutal honestly.

And that just took the wind out of my sails for NaNo. On Friday I came up with an excuse why I couldn’t get up at 5:00 AM and had to be at work by 10:00 AM on Saturday after an all night poker binge and Sunday was my lazy football day. This morning…well, I don’t have a good excuse for this morning either.

So here I sit, 7 days into my goal to write 16 short stories in 30 days…and I have 1,293 words so far.

But I have good news for you, my faithful readers. I will not disappoint you. I announced that I would publish something by January 1 2012, and (strike a Scarlett O’Hara desperation pose) as God As my witness I shall!

And to sweeten the deal I will further reward your patience with me, I shall post TWO things today. (I have to get to work, otherwise I would do it now) I have a great blog coming up about an art exhibit that is worth about $1.1 million dollars being ruined by a rather dedicated cleaning lady and a congregation of churchgoers who were asked if they would please leave their guns at home before they come to worship.

Oh yeah, it is going to be a dozy!

Lars Alius Boncasius Fenwick Cavus II. (His friends call him La’bifcii for short)

Well, my NaNoWriMo is off to a rip roaring start. I wrote 457 words this morning. Yeah, someone dial 9-1-1…I’m burning it up!

My alarm went off at 5:00 and I slept in until 5:45. I stumbled downstairs and made some coffee and collected some of my notes. As soon as the coffee was finished I sat down with my outline and began to work.

At exactly 7:01, my daughter stumbled into the living room and turned on PBS Kids.

I can’t concentrate with shows about talking dogs who like Alphabet Soup on in the background.

But 457 words is better than 0 and the day is not done. As soon as they go to school, I’ll try some more. There is always my lunch break and then when I get home tonight. In any event, there is no way I’d be able to hit the recommended quantity most single college kids are shooting for this month, which is why I didn’t officially sign up for NaNoWriMo, but chose instead to honor the spirit of it with my own writing challenge for November.

I have a goal for the next 30 days that I finally settled on. I waffled back and forth for the past week with exactly what I wanted to accomplish. Did I want to finish the final draft of my novel? Did I want to write a YA Fantasy for Middle School readers? Did I want to write something totally new and focus on an alien erotica romance?

Instead, of all of those great ideas, I have decided to focus on a project that I hope all of you will end up enjoying and it will give me a small sense of accomplishment.

I have two anthologies of short stories I’ve been “working” on for quite awhile now. Well, to be honest with you, I’ve not touched them in years, but I do have 4 short stores I’m proud of and “anthology” sounds better. My goal for the next 30 days is to write 16 more.

I then plan to edit them over the month of December and polish them up until they are all nice and spiffy.

That means by January 1, 2012 I will self-publish all 20 stories in e-book formats such as Nook and Kindle! (Well, I may edit that number down in December, but you get the idea)

So, I guess this is like my pseudo press release announcing the publication date for a new title.  Wow…sounds kinda cool. I should have worn a suit and tie. It’s 7:40 and I’ve not even brushed my teeth yet. This was not quite what I envisioned my first press release would be like, but welcome to the digital age!

Many of my posts this month will be little teasers of the stories I’m working on. I spoke to my agent and we both agreed that the best way to market this project would be to wet your appetite with small snippets and random one-liners periodically sprinkled over my blog and twitter for the next 61 days. I took our idea down to the advertising division of my publisher and they will get to work on it. I just told those slackers down there that I had to have this ready to go January 1.

They better not miss this hard deadline or heads will roll!

Here is my first teaser. This story is about an aristocratic wizard who flunks out of anacademy and needs to perform some magic tricks in the tavern in order to eat.

Lars Alius Boncasius Fenwick Cavus II stood on the small stage with an elaborately decorated walking stick held over his head trying to remember the words to a spell he had learned at the academy a few months before. His friends called him “Labficii”. Some of his old professors used to call him “Shaky Hands Labficii.” The last thing Lars learned was that acolytes who have a name like “Shaky Hands” never last very long at a wizard’s academy.”

I hope you are hooked because watch for it on an e-reader near you very soon!

“Aaron D Graham Cause Of Death” and NaNoWriMoABaDMamMaJaMa

Have you ever looked at the “Top Searches” on your dashboard?  Sometimes they are good for a few chuckles to find out what kind of things might bring all of you fine readers to my site. Such as “Phone In Bra”  Yep. Evidently some of you found me by searching for phones in bras. I can only assume you ment to find my post on Mother’s Day this year “Word Association This Mother’s Day: You Say Mother I Say Mammary.”  But seriously…did you really find me by looking for “Phone In Bra”? I don’t even want to know what kind of porn you might have under your bed.

Other searches were understandable, such as “Zombies Being Controlled

Or “Famous Cheat Codes

But the one that actually concerns me was this one: “Aaron D Graham Cause Of Death.”

Did some of you actually search for my demise…or are you secretly plotting it?  Either way, it was a bit disconcerting to see that some of you stumbled on my little peaceful slice of the internet looking for whether or not I was dead.

I assure everyone, I am very much alive.

Which brings me to a rather morbid thought…how would anyone know if I DID in fact have a rather violent collision with a MAC Truck? How would any of you know…come to think of it…I did have that four month sojourn where I didn’t post anything for awhile…

OMG…is that why some of you searched for my death?  Did you think I kicked it? Shuffled off my mortal coil? Went belly up in a shallow grave?  Expired? Gone the way of a dinosaur?  Offed?

Wacked?

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am so sorry!  That is actually sad in a hilarious sort of way. Truly, if there was one of my now 38 subscribers who had been wondering why I had not written in 4 months and actually went on line to search google whether or not I had died, I sincerely apologize!  If it’s true…I’m a little humbled.

I assue all of you, if I ever find myself on a little boat crossing the river Styx, I will text my agent and have him post an addendum to this blog straightaway, informing everyone of my demise. (Wait a second…I don’t have an agent, so my wife will have to do. Unless of course my wife is with me when the aforementioned MAC truck slams into both of us, in which case our fate will be left up to my mother to post on our behalf…but then again, my mother typically forgets her facebook password and has about 8 different accounts because she keeps making up a new one every time she forgets her old password…

I guess that means ya’ll are just out of luck until I get an agent) 

But, between that day and this, I do plan to continue plugging away few times a week in small 500-700 word essays on my rather scribbled, colored way outside the lines, view on life. Even during July, August and September…I knew I would hop on again…eventually.

In fact, I have so recharged my batteries I’ve been tempted to take my own unique twist with this whole NaNo thing. No, I don’t think I will sign up for it, so I wont’ get one of those snazzy little blog banners to post up here in a few days. But, in honor of the NaNoWriMoObAmABaDMaMaJaMa, I am going to outline my own set of goals, which will be updated here.  Give me another day or two to iron out the wrinkles, but I have some specific objectives I WANT to accomplish by November 30th.

I just don’t think it will be 50,000,000,000 words on a new novel. 

If you have any ideas, feel free to share.  Or if you have any writing goals of your own, maybe we could hold each others feet to the fire…while we roast marshmellows and have SMORES.

UPDATE #1 I just ran across this rather inspirational quote for all of us unpublished and unagented writers out here. Check out Laney’s post from today and smile.

UPDATE # 2 I just ran across this rather delightful blog from my Twitter account. MJWright is definatly worth the read, especially if you are a lover of Tolkien as I am!

“I’ll make you eat those words one day, you fat sow!”

I am proud of myself this morning. It is just after 7:00 AM. My daughters are up watching Martha Speaks. My son is still sleeping. My wife is beginning to buzz around to get things ready for school…and I’ve been up for 2 hours writing. My coffee is lukewarm and I’m 850 words further along in my story that I was at 4:45 AM.

This is the discipline I’ve needed. I even had a moment at 5:15 when the coffee was brewing I hopped on line to check my blog. No one else had “liked” my previous post from the weekend, so I figured it was time to post something new and move on from the whole “King Herod and the Godfather” story line. I was even tempted to get into writing a new blog.

“I’ll just do it real quick while the coffee if brewing,” I told myself.

The temptation was there. I even had a blank document up and my fingers hovering over the home row keys ready to fly.

But I knew what would happen. I would get into writing some blog and it would eat up all of my precious time. No offense to my 33 subscribers, I do love you all, but this time was reserved for my book, not you. So, I just did some mindless analysis of my daily statistics until about 5:20 and went down to get that cup of coffee.

An hour and a half later, I was satisfied with myself and double checking the pages to make sure enough tension was woven in to keep the story moving. I love this line: “I’ll make you eat those words one day, you fat sow!” Amlyn said with bile…

I wrote that about 6:35 AM. There was just something cool about the imagery of “eating your words” and a pig as an insult to a woman.  Yikes!  Good thing for Amlyn he hops out of the carriage and runs off.

But I must give credit where credit is due. Not for the line. I wrote that on my own. I mean for this sudden desire to get up earlier and write with more discipline. Dennis Mahoney’s blog was the most recent inspiration for me. He wrote a great piece on Saturday about his daily schedule. From time to time I do this: commit myself to an early morning writing schedule to write as much as possible before the house wakes up and my ‘zone’ is shattered by PBS Kids Television, early morning bickering and my son who can’t understand why he can’t have a popsicle for breakfast.

According to him, it would help him wake up.

Alas, I need to go help them get ready. Hopefully you guys can help keep me accountable to make sure I’m writing when I’ve blocked out time to do so.