The Priluck Flaming Swing of Death

This incident happened two years ago, today. I’ve patiently waited for enough time to pass as to not embarrass Justin. (He has read this and approved it.) Everyone is entitled to a bad day from time to time. Justin decided to compile all his bad days into one. And, it just so happened that all of this occurred while GWE was out of town for a week on a business trip. Here is what happened:

Justin and Garrett had just begun classes at a new school. Both were very excited about the new opportunities that lay ahead, but both were having some challenges. Garrett had gotten into a few physical altercations with his new classmates and Justin was trying to make a name for himself in a grade full of students who’d all known each other for since kindergarten.  

On a Tuesday afternoon, I received a call from the school. Garrett had been too disruptive in class again and they ‘encouraged’ me to come and get him. It was a busy workday, but I knew my mother-in-law would be in the area in a few hours to help. I was about to grab my keys and head for the door when the school called again.

“Hello?” I asked.

“Hi, this is….” I cut the person off because I thought I knew why they were calling. I responded abruptly with, “Yes, yes, I’m coming to get him. I need more that 5 minutes to get there.”

“Oh. Ok.” There was a pause. “Well, we’re in the nurses’ station when you get here.” I was confused. “Why is Garrett in the nursing station?”

“Garrett? I’m not calling about Garrett. I’m calling you about Justin. You need to come and get him.”

Now, I was totally confused. Did I need to pick up Garrett or Justin or both Justin and Garrett??? What the hell was going on?

I raced to the school, hopped out of the car, and dashed to the nursing station. My mother-in-law was already there, looking incredibly concerned. As I stepped into the room, I discovered Justin sitting in a wheelchair. He was cradling his arm, the nose looked like it had been mashed to one side, and there was blood. Blood on his lip, blood on his shirt, and bloody tissues everywhere. He looked miserable, in shock, and in pain.

The nurse on call told me that he had an accident. (Really?? Do tell!) She was unclear on the circumstances of what happened, but he clearly needed more medical treatment than a few band-aids and a Tylenol. She gave me the address to a pediatric urgent care. I asked my mother-in-law to take Garrett with her so I could take Justin with me.

That wasn’t the nose he was wearing when he left for school that morning.

We ‘wheeled’ him to my car and then he and I left for the doctor’s office. I think the initial shock of what happened wore off in the car because Justin (who was slightly comatose back in the nursing station) started to come to life. The pain had begun, and he was starting to feel it. The more uncomfortable he got, the faster I went.

I think it was at this point that I called GWE to inform her that her son had been broken. I give her credit. She did not panic…out loud. She knew it was under control and being 3000 miles away was going to limit her ability to help. We just needed to get him assessed as quickly as possible. The meltdowns could wait.

When we got to the urgent care, they rushed him in for an x-ray. The doctors confirmed that he had broken his wrist and they referred me to a Sports Orthopedist. They also examined his nose but did not have the ability to x-ray his head (which I assured him was empty, but he was having none of my humor.) Their guess was that he had broken the septum in his nose.  They referred me to an Ear, Nose, and Throat specialist. I set an appointment for the following morning.

Those x-ray glasses you can order from the back of comic books really do work!

The ENT quickly assessed that he did break his septum and that he would need a minor surgery to fix the blockage. Interestingly, the ENT also had an emotional support dog in their office. Did the dog go and support Justin – the patient? No. Instead, the dog felt as though I was in more need of emotional support than the damaged boy sitting across from me. He laid his head in my lap and pitied me. Or, he smelled bacon.

Over the course of the next few days, GWE got home, Justin got his arm wrapped in a cast, and he was scheduled and prepped for surgery. I spent about 20 minutes with him in pre-op talking about everything except what was about to happen. He talked about Yo-Kai and Nintendo….and then the drugs did their job and he was out.

GWE and I met him in post-op. He was heavily sedated, but slowly coming back to consciousness. At one point, he looked up at us and loudly proclaimed, “FFFFFFFFUUUUUUUUUUU….” Concerned, GWE and I thought he was about to blurt out a very bad word, but it was too late, “….UUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUDDDGE!” Yes – his first word was “Fudge.” Whew!

He lives!!!

It took a few days, but Justin finally returned to school. He had a cast on his arm (which I fitted with Velcro so he could attach his Yo-Kai watch) and a cast glued to his nose. For a kid who no one knew on a Tuesday, he was certainly a celebrity by the time he returned. Everyone knew his name!

Justin’s recollection of what happened is still a little fuzzy. He was swinging on the school swing set. He thinks that he lost his balance while going backwards and in order to “catch” himself, he put his arm out. His arm slammed into the ground and twisted. And, because his arm wasn’t there to support him, his face hit the ground. Ouch!

Once the dust had cleared, the injuries were tended to, and our collective parental blood pressure had stabilized, I told Justin that we needed something other than medical bills to remember this moment. We needed to memorialize this event with a plaque. I suggested that we should discreetly attach a sign to the bottom of the swing seat designating it, “The Priluck Flaming Swing of Death.”

Garrett’s 8th Birthday Party is (Literally) on Fire

This is what happens when you don’t blow out your birthday candles fast enough.

The birthday invitations had been sent out weeks earlier and the RSVPs had been returned. The cake had been ordered, the Game Truck had been reserved, and gifts were hidden throughout the house. There were a few “Happy Birthday” banners on the wall, but the real decorating was schedule to begin 24 hours later. Garrett went to sleep content in knowing that in just a few short hours, he would be celebrating his birthday with his family and friends from school.

What he didn’t expect was to be woken up at 1am by me whispering into his ear, “Garrett. I need you to wake up. We’re evacuating the house. There is a fire outside and we need to leave now.”

Two hours earlier, GWE stood at the back of the house overlooking the San Fernando Valley. She noticed a strange orange glow coming from behind the mountains to the left of us. In response, she turned on the news to discover a fire had started in the area. I brushed it off as not being a big deal and I went back to binge watching a Netflix series. Periodically, we’d flip back to the news and the fire seemed to be growing, but I still didn’t think it was serious. It wasn’t until I turned around to look out the back window that I realized that we might have a big, burning problem headed in our direction.

GWE asked me if we should prepare to evacuate. I thought it wasn’t a bad idea as a “just in case.” I honestly didn’t think we’d need to leave.  However, 5 minutes later, I saw the fire come over the top of the mountain and we raced into evacuation mode. Since this is the second time we’ve done this in 13 months, we’ve gotten pretty good at grabbing the most important stuff as quickly as possible.

I gently woke up Justin with the news that we were evacuating. He met the challenge head-on by going back to sleep. I tried again 10 minutes later. “Justin, I’m not kidding. There’s a fire outside. Time to go.”

Garrett was far more responsive. Once he heard what I’d said, he popped out of bed, jammed his backpack with stuff, grabbed his electric guitar, and he was out the door.

We left the house at 1:30am without any idea of where we were going. Hotels in the area were getting swarmed with calls and our friends and family were fast asleep (and not responding to our texts)…except for my mother who was awake at 4:30am in Atlanta because she’s become nocturnal, I guess? Luckily, my parents are Marriott preferred customers and she was able to use that status to get us a room at the Marriott Warner Center. It’s about 20 minutes away from the house.

We checked in, got to our room, and collapsed on the beds. GWE and I tried to bring some normalcy to the moment by getting the kids ready for bed all the while watching the local news coverage of the fire. Justin was asleep as soon as he hit the bed. Garrett was just about to close his eyes when all of a sudden, the hotel fire alarm went off. Crap!

Once again, Garrett popped out of bed, grabbed what was important to him, and then he demanded I take him down the 17 flights of stairs to the lobby because the elevators were deactivated due to the fire alarm. I protested, but he won. We walked down all 17 flights of stairs. (Fun fact: In the 5th floor stairwell, there’s a toilet just sitting there. I guess ‘when you gotta go, you gotta go.’) It turns out that there was so much smoke outside that it was setting off the fire alarms on the inside of the hotel.

At 3am, GWE texted, “Where are you?” I sent her a picture of Garrett and I sitting in the lobby.  She thought it was hilarious. I did not.

At 3:30, the elevators resumed and we made it back to our room. Garrett passed out around 4am. I think I fell asleep soon after.

At 8:30, I rolled over and saw Garrett staring at me. “Happy Birthday, buddy,” I said to him. With a look of concern on his face, his first question was, “Will I be able to go to school today so that all my friends can sing me the Happy Birthday song?” I explained to him that school had been cancelled for the day, but I’m sure they would be singing to him on Monday.

At this point, GWE and I had to balance a way to celebrate Garrett’s birthday in a spontaneous and care-free way all the while catching glances of the news to make sure that all of our stuff didn’t burn to the ground. First, breakfast!

We went to our favorite diner to grab a quick bite. It’s a real diner where the clientele runs the gambit from ultra-wealthy Mulhollanders to nightshift janitors. As we walked in, I recognized a former porn star who was leaving with her parents. (Only in LA.) We know the owner of the diner, so before we sat down we were able to fill him in our past 9 hours. We also informed him that it was Garrett’s birthday. He left and then quickly returned with a short stack of pancakes for Garrett with a candle in the middle. What followed was every patron of the diner singing “Happy Birthday” to Garrett.

After breakfast and a few other errands, we returned to the hotel so that Garrett could open some of his gifts. He was thrilled to get a massive box of 12 different “speed” Rubix cubes along with some Lego sets. He was thrilled with every gift he got.

At some point during the day, we heard from our friends Jon and Nkechi because they had finally seen GWE’s texts. They graciously took us into their home. They fed and entertained us refugees with an evening of dinner and a movie. At the end of the night, we all parted ways and returned to our hotel room.

It had been a long day. Garrett had only slept 4 hours over a span of 24 hours. He had evacuated both his home and his hotel room. He didn’t know if he’d ever seen his stuff again and it was his birthday. Anyone else would have had a meltdown at some point during the day. (Including me.) Not Garrett. As he climbed into bed, I asked him how his birthday was.  His response: “This was the greatest birthday ever!”

Justin’s Jelly Bean Prank Backfires

barf2Honestly, I’m a little behind with this blog. It’s not that I don’t have enough to write about. It’s that there’s too much to write about and the stories are getting backed up. So – let’s re-start slowly…

Last week, GWE took Justin to Six Flags on an afternoon when there was an early dismissal from school. While I worked, they had fun riding roller-coasters, eating junk food, and then sending me selfies of themselves riding roller-coasters and eating junk food. (Did I mention that I was working??) When I got home that evening, I expected to find Justin passed out in bed. To my surprise, he was awake…and oddly excited about something.

“Daddy!! I bought you some jelly beans! I know how much you love jelly beans,” Justin exclaimed. I could see that he was trying to contain his laughter, so I assumed he was up to something.

“No thanks. I’ll pass,” I replied – knowing that it would drive him a little nuts.

“Daddy! These are the best jelly beans! I bought them just for you!!!!!!!!” The giddiness was causing him to vibrate.

With cautious optimism, I took one jelly bean from his hand and popped it into my mouth. I did not chew. I just waited for him to respond. After a few seconds, I gave up and decided to eat the jelly bean. At first, it tasted like popcorn. And then…….this disgusting flavor and odor of dead fish invaded my mouth and nose. It was awful! Justin rolled on the floor laughing about how he got me as I scrambled to get the taste out of my mouth! While I gulped half a container of milk, Justin explained that I had eaten something called “Bean Boozled.” They are purposely awful jelly beans.


Justin thought I was over-reacting to how bad the beans were, so he decided to show me that he could eat any of them and it wouldn’t affect him at all. I told him that I would chose the bean and he would have to eat which ever I chose.

I chose “Barf.”

Justin took the bean and ate it with the same bravado you see from a drunk college student who is dared to drink an entire bottle of hot sauce. He smiled as he took the first two bites. All of a sudden, his expression changed. He coughed twice…..and then threw up all over the kitchen sink. The bravado on his face vanished and was replaced with confusion, fear, and tears. He was not expecting that as an outcome. After a few more dry-heaves and a glass of water, I tucked him into bed.

While tucking Garrett into bed, I heard Justin run down the hallway…then some banging….and then the sound of him running back to his room. When I went back into his room I asked him what happened. He responded, “Daddy. I threw out the jelly beans. I don’t want you to trick me with those beans ever again!”

Oh how the trickster becomes the tricked!

Legos of Love

Lego“Garrett broke his Lego firetruck again.”

These are the words I was greeted with as I walked through the front door after a very long and exhausting day. In addition to being tired and mentally ‘fried,’ I had a sinus infection and the antibiotics had not begun to take effect yet. Or, they had begun to take effect, but were somehow putting me in a foul and mildly lethargic mood.

My mother-in-law showed me a pile of Legos on the table that, at one time, resembled a firetruck. Now, it was simply rubble. As MoGWE, informed me of her afternoon and evening with the boys, I continued to look over at the pile of Legos. I think the day had taken its toll because I wasn’t exactly listening to what was being said…and I was thinking about the Legos, but kept losing focus while having my eyes roll into the back of my head out of exhaustion. I keep doing the ‘head bob’ of an old man almost falling asleep while sitting up and then being jolted back to life at the last second….all while thinking of Legos.

After MoGWE left, I sat at the kitchen table and began to reassemble the firetruck once more. Not because I wanted to, but because I wanted to avoid the screams and crying the following morning as to why the firetruck hadn’t been magically fixed yet. (Yes, I am a superhero known as The Night Lemming. My secret power is to sneak around after hours and clean up toys.)

It took me about 20 minutes, but I rebuilt the Lego Firetruck. Afterwards, I slithered into bed and passed out.


There was excitement and glee in the air the following morning as Garrett got his firetruck back!! And, all was well with the world!

The following evening, as I walked into the house, I was greeted by the nanny. Her exact words were….

“Garrett broke his Lego firetruck again.”



Bike1 One son won’t go outside and the other one won’t come inside. On Saturday morning I asked Justin to come outside and play basketball with me. He lasted about 7 minutes and then complained of cramps, headache, pending heat stroke, and the possibility of dying on the driveway. While I was tempted to stop playing basketball and start playing dodgeball by throwing the basketball at his head, I allowed him to go back inside. As he headed towards the house, I told him to send out his brother.

Garrett was thrilled to play basketball with daddy. However, as I learned, I’ve been playing basketball wrong all these years. Instead, he introduced me to Bike-sketball.

The object of the game is for Garrett to ride his bike while holding the basketball. He then waits until he’s open (I promise you, he’s always open) and then he throws the ball straight up in the air. He’s not even close to the basketball net, but I don’t think that’s the point. Instead, he tries to ride his bike away before A) daddy saves him by catching the ball, or B) the ball hits him in the head. There are a few problems with this game:

  1. I still don’t know how to play the game correctly because Garrett keeps screaming, “No daddy!!!! You’re not doing it right!!”
  2. He’s a ‘big’ kid. Even if he were to pedal fast enough to get away, the first two rotations of the wheel go nowhere because he weighs too much for the bike and the wheels have no more tread. The wheels go round and round, but he goes nowhere.
  3. Getting hit in the head does not seem to be a deterrent for him. However, my getting popped in the chin a few times by him throwing the basketball straight up before I’ve gotten out of the way – big problem.


I don’t see a bright future for this sport. I’m going to suggest Couch-Golf and Sleep-Surfing next.


Play-NiceAs a parent, you want to keep your kids safe. You’d throw yourself in front of a bus if it meant that your children would remain unharmed and secure. But sometimes, you find yourself choosing to be – The Bad Parent. Yes, you could intervene at the moment of conflict. However, you purposely don’t because (maybe, in the back of your mind you’re thinking) your child deserved what was coming

It doesn’t happen often and I’m not proud of this, but one such incident needs to be shared

Justin has a habit of bugging Garrett at the moment when Garrett’s tolerance for bullshit has been depleted. Garrett loves physical play, but doesn’t like being touched by his brother. I’ve warned Justin on multiple occasions to get his hands off of his brother before Garrett loses his composure and starts punching him.

Several nights ago, my warnings fell on deaf ears. I told Justin that if he touched his brother one more time, he would probably get punched by Garrett. Sure enough, Garrett not only punched him….but leapt on top of him and began to pummel him like a prize fighter.

I was 5 feet away. I could have said something. I could have pulled Garrett off of Justin. I could have yelled at them both to cut it out.

I didn’t.

I just stood there and took another sip of my water as the ruckus continued.

And then, I heard the strangest/funniest/weirdest comment come out of Garrett’s mouth. As he continued to punch Justin over and over with Justin pleading for me to help him, I heard Garrett scream at Justin, “I’m hitting you and I’m hitting you HARD because I’m your BEST FRIEND!!!”

It’s something that has stayed with me ever since he said it. What did he mean by that? Was it like when a parent tells a child that they’re very angry with them, but still love them? Was he trying to tell Justin that he had no friends and managed to piss off the last one? Was he so angry that he couldn’t find the words he really wanted to use? I don’t know.

But, I now have a name for it: “Bro-Frenemies.” Sometimes they are friends. Sometimes they are enemies. But, they will always be brothers.