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.”

Justin Reads the News

wmnThe first year we attended Justin’s school fundraiser, GWE noticed that one of the items up for bid was the opportunity for Justin to host the school’s morning news broadcast. Typically, this was a honor reserved for the 4th and 5th graders. However, thanks to GWE’s ability to outbid and (quite frankly) intimidate anyone who came within 5 feet of the bid sheet, Justin got an early start in the morning news business – Kindergarten! Each and every year since he began attending this school, Justin has appeared on the Woodcrest Morning News.

You may also notice that Garrett makes an appearance as well. He started out as a background prop and worked his way up to co-host of the show with his big brother. And now, thanks to the editing skills of GWE, you can fully enjoy “The Justin-Reads-The-News Montage Show!”

Justin’s First Real Rock Concert – Huey Lewis and the News

img_5862Ever since Justin saw “Back to the Future,” he’d become obsessed with Huey Lewis and the News. He’s been listening to the “Sports” and “Greatest Hits” albums non-stop for months. It’s funny to hear him doing his homework with his headphones on while humming along to “Hip to Be Square” and (his favorite) “Workin for a Livin.” Because he’s wearing headphones (that cost the same as my car – thank you Grandpa Bob!) he doesn’t know that we all can hear him singing. It’s pretty funny to hear a 9 year old sing, “…at least until I die, dammed if you do, dammed if you don’t, I’m supposed to get a raise week, you know damn well I won’t.”

One evening, GWE ‘bounced’ into the bedroom and shook me excitedly while announcing that Huey Lewis and the News would be performing at Humphrey’s Concerts by the Bay in San Diego. GWE decided that I would be taking Justin to see his favorite band perform live. Before I could ask “If this is It,” GWE had ordered the tickets, booked the hotel room, and we planned on taking a “Couple Days Off.”

This is one of the few bands I’ve loved consistently over the years. While I was very happy to be seeing the show, I was more honored to know that I would be accompanying Justin to his first real concert! That made it that much better!

GWE and I had seen Huey Lewis and the News play about 15 years ago at the Universal Amphitheater and it was a great show. By pure coincidence, a few years ago, I was having drinks with a client at the Four Season Hotel in Beverly Hills on the front patio when some rowdy guys behind us got a little too loud. I brushed it off thinking: “DRUNKS!” But, when they began to harmonize and start singing, I turned around to discover that it was Huey Lewis and the News! I was shocked! It was the best private show anyone could have asked for!

It wasn’t until the week before the show that we finally told Justin what our plans were. He could not believe it! (As excited as Justin was to see the show, I think he was more excited knowing that we would have to pull him out of school early in order to get to the show!) For Justin, the next few days were just a blur of counting down the days to the concert and asking which songs they’d be playing at the show.

When the day finally came, we jumped in the car, picked up the kids from school and we were “Cruisin’.” We all listened to (and sang along with) “Alive at 25” as we headed down to San Diego. Justin and I had just enough time to drop off our bags at the hotel and race over to the venue. To tell you that we had fun wouldn’t accurately describe it. It was a blast!

Here are some pictures (and a short video):



More Justin

Justin’s Spanish Comic Book

During Justin’s final weeks of third grade, one of his homework assignments was to create a comic strip using the Spanish vocabulary words he had been assigned throughout the quarter. He was very excited about creating the comic strip. But, he was not thrilled at the prospect of trying to use his Spanish words to create a story. His plan was simple: create the comic strip first and then try to ‘massage’ the Spanish vocabulary words so that they fit the images.

His comic panels were great. But, as time went on, he struggled to find the right words to use. It was at this point that he made his biggest mistake: he asked for my help.

I do not speak Spanish. After five years of Spanish lessons, I can order a Chalupa at Taco Bell and ask for directions to a library. But, that’s about it. As I’ve confessed before, had I not been sitting behind Tammy Parks or Greta Jackson all throughout high school, I would have failed Spanish. Thanks to their unprotected classwork and my keen eyesight, I cheated my way to graduation. (Hey – “If you ain’t cheating, you ain’t trying!”)

With my limited high school Spanish and a lot of help with Google Translate, I “helped” Justin with his assignment. Here are two examples of our collaboration:

Comic 1

In the first panel, a fight broke out. However, “punching” was not a vocabulary word. We decided to go with “Estoy tocando la cara con el puno,” which roughly translates to “I am touching your face with my fist.”

Comic 2


And finally, one character is laughing as the other one screams, “No me gusta bola de fuego!” This translates to “I do not like it when my balls are on fire!”  (I was sure someone would notice how inappropriate this was, but no one said anything! No note from the teacher….no call from the school.)

Somehow, Justin passed Spanish. I still owe a debt of gratitude to Tammy and Greta and I probably owe an apology to whoever read Justin’s comic book.

Lo siento!

Garrett the Graduate

GarrettGarrett is now one step closer to Graduate School, Medical School, or Law School! I’m not sure which one Garrett will choose. But, as long as it’s not Clown School, I’ll be happy.  

Garrett is now a proud graduate of pre-school. He has spent the past school year mastering his letters and his numbers, learning the fundamentals of art, practicing some Yoga, and being reminded that we play with our friends. We don’t punch them in the face.

All in all, I’d say it was a successful experience! Up next – KINDERGARTEN!



The Priluck Boys Present…The News!

WMNEach Spring, GWE and I bid on one particular item at Justin and Garrett’s school’s silent auction. It’s not a wine basket or gift certificate. It’s the experience of hosting the school’s morning news/announcement show for an entire week. We’ve done it for the past couple of years and it’s become such a tradition that even the administrators at the school know that it’s something the boys (and maybe GWE) really, really look forward to.

For the first two years, Justin hosted the show with GWE. Last year, he hosted the show with GWE, but with Garrett making a few cameo appearances. This year, GWE was replaced by Garrett and he did an incredible job.

And now I present to you: The Woodcrest Morning News with Justin and Garrett!

Tuesday, April 19th:

Wednesday, April 20th:

Thursday, April 21st:

Friday, April 22nd: