A No-No in NoCal

(Some language as always will be a little salty and slightly NSFW.  Just so you know.)


I don’t know how often I’ve ever used the phrase “lose my sh*t”.  It doesn’t really feel like me, nor something I’d share loudly with my wife and kids in a car outside of San Francisco.  But after several days of driving and family time merged with a sinus infectious that made my head feel like the house at the end of POLTERGEIST, I couldn’t deal with it any more.  Not the brain-grinding whining over playing a trivia quiz where there were no points or competition.  Not when each kid will pick from a multiple choice answer, then when they find out it’s wrong, they angrily shrill, “No!  I meant the other one!”  Then the other kid will argue that the other one didn’t and is cheating.  Then on the next question, the other one gets it wrong and the younger one goes at him like he did before and it repeats itself into the most annoying infinity loop ever.  It’s like WHO'S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF with talking kid wolves that refuse to kill you and put you out of your misery.

And to make confined long road trips with my family in an unfamiliar locale even more challenging, I also had to deal with a sinus infection that was kicking my head’s ass.  A sinus infection that struck so bad that, while sleeping, I actually sneezed myself awake.  I’d never done that before in my life.  To go from my peaceful slumbering fetal position to snapping wide awake is like chewing gum and blowing a bubble out your ear.  At least, this nasal terror ONLY happened several times a night! 

On top of that, during my awake periods, when I would blow my big fat nose, the missus would come in from another room and ask if I heard someone scream. 

Nope.  Just my nose blowing. 

Then another time I blew my nose, she came into the room and asked if I was talking to her. 

Nope.  Just my jalopy sinuses and the aural apocalypses that my requisite snot-blowing can create.  Ben Burtt should come record my snot-blows to be the language of a new STAR WARS creature.  Or maybe just Jabba the Hutt with a cold.

Me after blowing my nose for three days straight.

Me after blowing my nose for three days straight.

So, I wasn’t at the top of my game physically.  Wasn’t sleeping well. 

To be terribly honest, I have immense difficulty being a human being dealing with humans as it is.  Thus, when my kids' incessant braying of cheating rose to a level that punched the balls of my brain repeatedly while I also tried to navigate through some sludgy slow-ass San Francisco claustrophobic traffic surrounded by giant semi’s and trailers (and even a pick-up truck suspiciously hauling a giant fresh-off-the-boat trailer behind it like it was stocked full of plutonium and sadness), it was much too much. 

All families argue on trips.

All families argue on trips.

Whiny kids whining over the nothingest nothing, crappy traffic in a foreign land of Day Five of family fun time travel, and a sinus infection so bad I thought my eyes would pop out like Schwarzenegger’s in TOTAL RECALL, it was just too much for me.  I know as some kind of grown-ass man I should have been better.  But I wasn’t.  And that silence that I achieved after shouting like an idiot was actually… nice.  Quite nice.  Quite nice with a tangible amount of embarrassing guilt.  But it was peaceful.  I knew I had to apologize later.  (And I did.)  But it was the bubble of mind space needed to get through that moment.  Which there should be for everyone all the time.

There should be an iPhone app that puts a bubble around you where everything around you slows and a sense of calmness surrounds you as Enya sings and gently combs your goatee.  In fact, it’s a down right shame that programmers everywhere have not spent EVERY moment making such an app happen instead of provoking birds with anger issues and allowing fingers to swipe their way to instant courtship.  

Perhaps that’s one of the problems with our modern world not being modern enough.  We’re not having A.I. / EX MACHINA robot kids yet and so these biological wonders don’t do everything you want them to do when you want them to.  They’re unpredictable and not prone to wait until you’re really ready to deal with them when your brain is less snot-filled and there’s less traffic. 

Plus, there are no emotional sneeze guards for kids.  They sneeze emotions on you all the time, making you feel their feelings.  (Not to mention all their real sneezes that cover you no matter how many times you tell them to do a vampire sneeze.  Back in my day there were no "vampire sneezes".  You just covered your nose with your hand and then that hand carried the germs everywhere you went spreading sickness around the world like the dirty booger-wipin’ animals we are.  But in this modern future, you sneeze into your anti-elbow area like you’re the Count counting all the chocolate marshmallows in Count Chocula.)

(In full disclosure, I am a Frankenberry man myself.)    

(In full disclosure, I am a Frankenberry man myself.)    

But the kids get under your skin in ways you can’t ever imagine.  Because you love them more than you do yourself.   But they also remind you of yourself more than yourself.  Their immaturities are yours.  Their foul behaviors learned from you.  They do not do what you say, but they do what you do and when you do do bad do’s they do so in a way that’s the emotional equivalent of the ultimate “Why are you hitting yourself “conundrum. 

Basically, it’s our inappropriate education system that gives us Spring Breaks where we have to actually parent our kids that’s at fault.  School is the place that keeps your kids for a few hours to make you like them more when you see them later.  It’s like an emotional depressurization chamber. (Oh, and they possibly learn something there, too.  Hypothetically.)  And school helps foster that whole “absence makes the heart grow fonder” because it does make your kids fonder to you. 

Because once your reality kids head off to school, your reality kids turn into abstract kids.  They’re your kids but in the abstract (and in their absence), they become idealized and perfect little beacons of cherubic bliss.  Because your abstract kids are always doting and listening and cheerful and funny and not like reality kids.  Reality kids have those moments, but they also have moments of yelling, crying, whining, pooping, peeing, arguing, blaming, screaming, puking, and talking endlessly about Minecraft in ways that make you scream “Pong!!!” to the heavens with a greater sense of revenge than Kirk ever did shouting: “Khannnnnnnnnnn!!!”

So basically traveling has taught me I’m still growing.  That I’m childlike in ways that aren’t great.  But that in the end, I can only do what I’ve done so far.  Try my best.  Apologize when I’m a dick.  And every once in awhile, lock myself in a cone of silence until I can deal with everyone again once more and they can pretend to stand me.