Saturday, February 15, 2014

Buzkashi and Your Anus

One thing about raising little critters on the ranch is the general perception that country kids are tough.  And, really, a lot of them are.  A friend of Dylan's recently was kicked by a horse.  When I told Dylan about it she was A) very concerned, then, B) shrugged it off and said, "Oh, he's tough, he'll be okay."  I like that.  I like the idea that others will perceive my kids as tough without them actually having to do anything particularly macho.  No alligator rasslin' or unfiltered cigarettes, no backyard bare knuckle bouts or that dead-goat polo game they play in Mongolia necessary.

The Wild Bunch
And really, our kids are pretty gritty.  I've seen them shake off hits and falls that would have put me in the cry-corner.  This winter Dylan slammed her finger in the car door as we were going into the Masonic Hall for breakfast.  She cried a little, then wrapped her bloody finger in a napkin and dug into her pancakes and bacon.  And last fall, when Grady and I went in for flu shots, I really expected the worst.  Instead, when the nurse jabbed him with a needle, he scowled at her like she'd just told him Christmas was cancelled.

Despite all this, both kids can also be pretty dramatic.  I used to think Dylan was tougher than an old boot, and then she started school.  She started coming home every day with a new bandaid covering some phantom injury.  We told her that bandaids over scratches were useless and she was wasting the school secretary's time.  When the bandaids stopped, Dylan started opting for ice-packs to cool off those gruesome wounds.  We tried to dissuade her with "The Boy Who Cried Wolf"-esq tales, but she didn't listen.  We finally had to put a hard stop to all of it when Mrs. Jenna, the secretary, told me that Dylan came in during one recess and requested an ice-pack for her heart.

At dinner, if Grady isn't very hungry, I'll often try my feeble attempt at reverse psychology and tell him, "Okay, if you aren't going to eat, then you can go to bed."  Ha, I think, now he'll eat.  Instead, his bottom lip curls down and quivers.  He climbs out of his chair and Charlie Brown-walks to his bedroom.  I watch as the door slowly shuts behind him.  My plan, of course, has completely backfired, and I spend the rest of dinner coaxing him out of his room with sweets like I'm befriending a stray dog.
Mucho Macho

It's easy to forget how sensitive the kids can be.  When Dylan came home from school this week and proudly announced that she was doing her first real school report on, wait for it, Uranus, my eyes lit up like a pinball machine.  Jokes!  Regina, fortunately, can read my very simple mind and shot me a "Don't you dare," look.  But Uranus!  It's right up there with Lake Titicaca, Titmouse, and pianist jokes.  I stopped, took a breath, and bit my tongue.  I knew that I'd take the jokes too far and would, undoubtedly, squelch her excitement for science and probably hurt her feelings.  Instead, like a proper father, I checked my jokes at the door, took a deep breath, and said, "Awesome.  Tell me all about Uranus."