Thursday, June 27, 2013

Considering my Eldest Daughter's Birthday

This next week, Eldest will celebrate her last birthday as a teenager. She has, in the space of one year, gone from entering college as a freshman in September to being listed as a Junior at the end of the spring semester. I miss her as a little girl, but am amazed at the young woman she has grown to be.

Earlier this year she came to me and said, “Dad, I want to go to Guacamole.”

I gazed back at her with that deep searching look that a father has for his daughter. And I thought to myself, “Guacamole? What is she talking about? She wants to go to a dip made from Avacados? Maybe I misheard her?” All of these, and many other thoughts crashed through my head.

Finally, I mustered up the courage and asked, “Guacamole?”

She looked at me strangely, “Yes, I think Guatemala produces the finest avocados in the world. But, I tell you I want to go to Guatemala and all you can do is ask me for Guacamole? You have lost it Father.”

My thoughts went something like this. “Whew, my daughter doesn’t want to be a dip. She doesn’t want to do strange avant garde art using guacamole. She just wants to go to Guatemala....  Wait! What? My little girl wants to leave me and go to a foreign country?!”

She saw the look of panic and fear on my face and gently reassured me. “Now Daddy, I don’t want to go there forever. The Enactus Club from college is going there on a missions trip. We are only going for 12 days. We are doing some work at an orphanage and a few other places. It is quite safe.”

“You want to go to Guatemala?” I stammered, still processing the shock.

“Yes, I have said it twice already.”

“The first time you said, 'Dad, I want to go to Guacamole.’”

Eldest rolled her eyes, “Dad, you are going deaf.”

To be quite clear, I am not going deaf; it is simply that people in today’s society mumble. With all the texting and Facebooking, and tweeting, and pinteresting, no one can articulate clearly anymore. This whole topic foments so much ire in me that when someone accuses me in mumble, of going deaf, I respond in the same way I responded to my daughter.

“What did you say? I didn’t hear you; I think I am going deaf.”

She replied, loudly, “I want to go to Guatemala!”

“Avocado you do.” I mumbled back.

Friday, June 21, 2013

How Did You Start Your Summer?

Back in September, I shared about the first day of school and my job as a school bus driver for a local school district. Things have greatly improved since that first day. I know my way around the district much better. I don’t get lost as much, and I get the right kids to the right schools at the right times more often. 

As a substitute bus driver, I get a variety of different runs and rarely have the same bus two days in a row. It is great to meet and greet some amazing young people.

Although there was the one time when the dispatcher called me on the radio at 7:30 in the morning and asked when I was going to be at a certain stop. I radioed back succinctly, “6:50”

There was silence. Then a strained voice squeaked from the radio’s speaker, “6:50? But it is 7:30 now.That was 40 minutes ago.” I replied that I was supposed to be at the stop at 6:50, and I had indeed been there at 6:50. I had stopped the bus, opened the doors, looked at the crowd of 15 or so students standing on the corner, and not one of those students got on the bus.

“No one got on the bus?” asked the dispatcher.

“Not a one,” I replied. Apparently, three different buses stop at that corner to pick up students for various schools, but I am still not sure why none of them wanted to ride with me. Am I that scary looking?

The dispatcher quickly got things sorted out and I continued on my run without returning to pick up the students who missed their bus.

On the last day of school this year, I was driving down a street with a stop at the very end.  As I threaded that 39 foot beast between two illegally parked cars I noticed two students leave the stop and run towards their houses. 

When I got to the stop one of the remaining students asked me if I could wait for her brother, who had to run home to retrieve a forgotten item. Being the last day of school and running a little ahead of schedule, I waited.

When the last straggler was on the bus, I closed the door and put on my grumpy father face. I glared into the mirror above my head and announced sternly, “Alright folks, I didn’t mind waiting too much today, but tomorrow you better be here on time because I will not wait for you!”

Everyone on the bus became silent, until one young lady, apprehensively spoke up, “But Mr. Bus driver, today is the last day of school.”

I grinned gave the mirror a big thumbs up and said, “You got that right! Guess we don’t have to worry about tomorrow then.”

And that began my summer break. How did yours start?

Friday, June 7, 2013

Mind Over Matter and a Clean Bedroom

Helicopters are on the minds of some professors and students at the University of Minnesota. In a place known for snow, these brilliant minds are flying a helicopter with only thoughts. The professor, Bin He, who I am told is no relation to Ben Her, explains that this contraption doesnt really read a persons mind, it senses electrical pulses in the brain to steer a drone-style helicopter through an obstacle course. 

When I first saw the headline, I thought it was simply wishful thinking. Ever since I saw telekinesis, the ability to move objects using only thoughts, on a science fiction movie as a child, I wanted that ability. I wont name the movie here, but I will give you a hint – it rhymes with “Star Wars. 

My mother would send me up to my room to clean and I would sit on the bed, straining to lift dirty laundry into the hamper, simply by mere urging of my thoughts. Well, that and some exotic hand positions and shaking of my arms. It is important for your arm to tremble, I suppose, since it must focus the brain waves.

During a half-hour of working on mind of dirty laundry issues, the inevitable would happen. My mind would start to wander and off I went day dreaming of all the wonderful things young boys day dream about, only to be interrupted by the sounds of moms footsteps as she ascended the stairs.

Robert! What have you been doing for the past half hour? This room is still a mess.

“I have been trying to use mind control to pick up the room, but apparently you didnt give me good mutant jeans, I replied.

Mother, always the practical one responded, “Genes. G-E-N-E-S. Jeans. J-E-A-N-S are the dirty pants on your floor that have to go into the laundry. In order for them to get there, you are going to have to expend some physical effort and pick them up by hand.

“Ugh, if Yoda could teach Skywalker to lift an entire X-wing fighter out of a muddy swamp with his brain, I should be able put a dirty sock in the hamper the same way, I complained.

Mother rolled her eyes and left, and I went back to cleaning the room, by hand. 

Perhaps it is a good thing that I never learned that whole telekinesis thing. I might have had a clean room, but the way my mind wanders I suspect my dirty clothes would have been scattered all over the playground. Yes, perhaps it is a good thing after all.