Mountain Man

I don’t know much about Sacagawea other than she’s one of the toughest baby-wearing moms in the history of the US.  Back in the days before Velcro and straps, she joined Lewis and Clark in their cross-country trek across the untamed wilderness of a new country.  I suspect that the Tula in the Wild phenomenon is based on an incident where she tracked down and distracted a hungry crocodile with a socially awkward, yet life saving bird call in order to save her friends’ lives… all while nursing her strap-on baby.  I recently undertook my own Sacagawean journey through the winding staircase wilderness of Tallulah Gorge Falls with my very own mini-Sacagawea strapped to my body.

The beauty of nature is all about perception.  An 800-step descent through a majestic landscape leaves you contemplating your place in this world as you gaze in childlike wonder at the handiwork of the Creator.  Zipedee do da whistles in the background and the occasional blue bird perches happily on your shoulder as a friendly squirrel shakes your hand, much to the delight of the giggling mini-Sacagawea.  My oh my, it truly is a wonderful day.

Then there’s the 800 step ascent, with a weary strap-on passenger who’s had enough blue birds, talking squirrels and kangaroo jokes from passers-by.  The sky somehow turns from a cartoonish blue to an ominous grey.  Smiling cherub-faced clouds morph into taunting clowns that point at my burning thighs with every aching step upward, upward, upward.   The flutter of butterfly wings and babbling of the brook is drowned out by the wailing cries of my pocket-sized explorer. No matter, though…as Sacagawea-man I forged ahead through screaming muscles and breathless steps with only a pioneer’s essentials: my wit and a fan-spray bottle.

In the end, my pint-sized pilgrim and I pushed through the staircase wilderness and emerged victoriously on the parking lot, embracing the water fountain with abandon and ignoring all sense of sanitation and propriety.

I now realize that survival is all about facing nature on its own terms, and then laughing in its face as you slam the car door and crank up the a/c.  

sacagawea    IMG_1224-3_20160327030131451

Big Gulp

We’ve all heard about Bucket Lists: a catalogue of things we would like to do before we arrive at our Sell-By date.  However, I have found that parenting comes with its own unique list… a list I call the Un-bucket List.  This list includes things we never thought we would do, but ended up doing as parents.  Here’s a sample from my Un-bucket List:

  1. Sucking another human’s snot out with a flexible straw.
  2. Pre-chewing another person’s food, then plopping that food in their mouth.
  3. Eating that same food after it’s been rejected.
  4. Smelling another human’s butt to determine if a deposit has been made
  5. Wiping that human’s butt once the deposit has been confirmed.

… and other accomplishments under the guise of “it’s ok, we have the same germs.”  Today’s Ringside Parenting story tells the tale of a recent addition to my Un-Bucket list… an addition that will be difficult to swallow.

We prepared for our hour and a half drive to Sea World with the usual pre-trip checklist: tumbler cups full of water for the adults, diaper bag, snacks, stroller, toys, and a kid’s movie in case of emergencies.  It was a lovely Florida summer day and both the skies and roads were clear… until we arrived at the entrance to the park.  At that point our free-spirited ride turned into a crawling caravan waiting to get into the parking lot.  Elias had recently conquered the potty training challenge and was doing an exceptional job of holding it, until the back and forth lurching of the van tipped his little bladder beyond holding point.

“Tengo que hacer pipi!!” he warned us loudly. I scanned our surroundings: nothing but lines of cars waiting to get in, some of them abandoned by their drivers who created their own parking spot.

“Can you wait?!”

“No papi… I gotta go NOW!” he screamed, grabbed his crotch and grimaced.

Like a front line field medic with nothing but her wit to keep wounded soldiers alive, Yarei moved into action and took one of our big tumbler cups, open the window and flung out the water.  In one swooping move she unbuckled him, stood him between the seats, and let sweet relief pour into almost half the cup.  After looking in front and behind us for spies, she quickly discarded of the contents in a nearby plant.  Crisis averted, we decided we too would abandon our van and begin our Sea World adventure.

Fast forward 4 hours and we returned to our van. I cranked up the AC, set the kids to ‘auto pilot’ with a DVD movie and began the journey home.  An hour into the  drive, Elias burst out,  “MAMI! Tengo que hacer pipi!”  Having seen the effectiveness of the pipi-cup, Yarei decided to avoid a stop and just had Elias relieve himself in the same way.  Always content to try something new, he happily complied, but this time about half the amount came out.  The cup was secured in the middle console cup holder, but I still eyed it suspiciously, as if its contents knew they were not where they were supposed to be.

Once home we began the mad rush to get the exhausted kids into bed before they reach total melt down.  Back and forth Yarei and I marched like worker ants as we took turns bringing in sleepy children and van cargo, which seems to multiply on the way back. Finally, after deactivating the little time bombs, I let out a sigh of relief and headed back to the kitchen to quench a thirst that had been building up since we got home.

Now, I don’t know about your house… but we are an omnipresent- water-drinking house.  Partially empty water cups are left everywhere and shared by everyone.  It’s a type of water Eden… until innocence was lost.

I entered the kitchen to a typical post-trip scene: left over snack containers on the table, diaper bag on the chair, a lonely kid shoe on the floor, and the travel tumblers along with other cups of water on the counter.  Finally quiet time, where a thirst-quenching cup of water can be enjoyed without interruptions.

I reached out for a yellow tumbler cup and raise it to my parched mouth.  As the liquid glided down my tongue it stopped midway and put a choke hold on my throat.  My eyes flared as the synapses between taste buds and brain jolted into a frenzied attempt to decipher what I just ingested.  Time grinded to slow motion as my brain rerouted all body resources to determine if the unthinkable had just happened. The kitchen swirled around me and went dark like a dimly lit cave. Before me appeared an ancient table made of thick, black wooden beams adorned with burning candles on each corner. Upon it lay a wide variety of cups – plastic cups, sippy cups with curly straws, golden goblets with safety lids, and metallic chalices with rubber grips.  And next to the table stood an even more ancient Templar Knight with a long white beard, resting on his shield.  He looked up from his immortal sentinel pose and simply stated:

Knight meme

With a wave of his gauntlet the cave vanished and I was back in my kitchen, gagging and spewing what had now been fully registered as Elias’ pee. 

Yarei walked in shortly after and witnessed an odd contortion on my face followed by an unintelligible gurgling sound.

“Oh, by the way… don’t drink from the yellow cup,” she stated matter-of-factly as she placed a can of garbanzos in the pantry.  “That’s where Elias did pipi.”

Thus was added the most unthinkable item to my parental Un-bucket list.  And if you think this story is ingesturine for a big surprise.

big gulp


Rhino Vs. La Caca

Bathtime with my kids reminds me of the old school Battle Ship game.  It’s all about moves and counter-moves.  Unfortunately, my one year old’s moves are mostly of the bowel type, so, like a good Naval Admiral, I must always have a counter-move ready.

I recently discovered her recurring naval attack when I was bathing both my 3 and 1 year olds together.  In order to keep the peace and maintain them in the water long enough to sanitize them, we’ve thrown in a random assortment of toys including action figures, balls, a rubber ducky, a snake, and some cars.  One day while I was dodging torpedo splashes in futility, I noticed out of the corner of my eye what appeared to be an unidentified toy in the water.  New snake? Odd shaped action figure? My mental viewmaster slides were trying to find a match with all registered toy images, but to no avail… until it switched to a different target search: potty pictures.  A match was found, and it confirmed my worst fear.  Selah had just launched a silent, brown torpedo in the water that could unleash a chain reaction of events.  I had to act quickly before impact, so I grabbed a nearby bucket, scooped up and disposed of the deadly discharge before any further damage was done.  Bathtime was aborted as I conducted a thorough crew decontamination followed by an evacuated into life rafts.

This should not have come to me as a surprise, since this 20 pound stealth submarine once shut down an entire hotel pool when one of her torpedoes managed to squeeze its way out of her baby bathing suit.  I should have learned my lesson.

I decided to enlist the sharp periscope eye of my three year old as a lookout.  I instruct him to be on “caca alert” in the event that Selah launched another attack during bath time.  He took the charge with much pride.  Recently, at the beginning of bathtime when I reminded him to be on caca alert, he saluted me with his right hand and thrusted his Rhino-man action figure forward with his left.

“Rhino va a pelear con la caca!” (Rhino will fight the caca!) He bellowed with the grit of a war-torn commando.  All he needed was a pint-sized cigar protruding out of his mouth.

“Bien hecho” I nodded and saluted back at my little SEAL.

Bathtime begun with a new sense of confidence in both of us. I was in the crow’s nest looking out for brown bullets, Elias and Rhino were on the surface and underwater scanning for any pre-torpedo vibrations/bubbles.  Selah babbled and splashed with her usual look of innocence… but something was stirring inside her.

Five minutes of playtime had passed and there was no breach of our perimeter.  Rubber ducky bobbed up and down peacefully, yet his blank stare betrayed a deep concern.  Elias was showing me his latest Rhino karate back flip when he suddenly screamed “PAPI! CACA ALERT!!!” Selah had adapted her weaponry to evade our new surveillance plan and launched a full spread mini torpedo net that covered more area with less effort.  Time was of the essence as the little projectiles flowed back and forth with every movement of water.  Without missing a beat Elias erupted, “RHINO VA PELEAR CON LA CACA!!!” and he began thrashing at the water back and forth, back and forth spewing the toxin in every direction. “NO CACA, NO!!!!” growled Rhino Man as he took the brunt of the brown.

The Brown Alert siren blared in the background as life slowed down to one of those slow motion moments where all you hear is a low, resounding “NOOOOO!!!” followed by distorted faces, swinging rhino-men, and beaming toddlers reveling in the moment.  Elias finished his thrashing with a look of triumph.  “I got it!!” he declared as he lifted Rhino up to gold medal position for the crowds to see.  Selah followed with her own pudgy fist in the air and a one year old’s squeal of delight “AGA EHHHH!!!”

With one hand covering my brow and the other leaning against the wall, I stood there a defeated Admiral overwhelmed at the casualties before me. I had been outwitted by a one year old stealth submarine with a full spread mini torpedo assault.  I would turn in my resignation to my Fleet Admiral and accept my position swabbing the poop deck.

… but not before Elias roared, “OTRA VEZ, PAPI!!!” (again, Papi!)

rhino vs caca

New Year’s Memoir

from before the days Suburban Luchador burst on the scene, I present to you my New Year’s Eve Dialogue from 2013 when Elias, our first born, was 1 year old. Curl up next to your virtual yule log, grab a box of goldfish with the family and enjoy.

A New Year’s Eve dialogue, for those who have traded the thumping base, mini skirts and flashy drinks for cries of “more goldfish!” , cloth diapers, and the occasional St Croix mineral water splurge. You know who you are. It’s no use hiding under the thought that: “Maybe the baby will be stay up late tonight and then sleep in.” No.   He won’t.

“So… what do you want to do tonight, Yarei?”

“ARE YOU KIDDING!!!?? WE’RE GONNA PAARTEEE!” she pumped both party fists in the air, like she just didn’t care.

“Please stop yelling. The child is sleeping and this is our 2 hour sanctuary of peace.”

“Yes yes, Louie” she patted my head, using my party name. ” Tonight, we’re going to have the biggest party this house has EVER SEEN!” she announced to no one in the particular, arm extended and scanning the horizon, as if to defy her reality.

“Oh yeah? Well, that party better be ova by 10:30pm”

“NO WAY!! We’re going into the night! We’re going the distance!!” she began to sing… “LIFE IS A HIGHWAY, I WANNA RIDE IT ALL NIGHT LONG!”

“That’s nice. Well, the highway manager goes to bed at 8:30pm. He then reopens the highway of life at 645am, sometimes throughout the night to make sure his drivers are staying awake and alert… regardless of when we enter or exit party lane.”

“You don’t know, Louie… you just don’t know. It’s gonna be boomin’.” she mused, staring off into the distant 2014 and smiling at the party future that awaited her (at least until 10:30).

Happy New Year to you, the revelers who will be saying it at 10:30pm, but pretending it’s midnight. Here’s to you, you scandalous party animals who are awoken by “happy new year!” calls at midnight from the “wanna-be revelers” and then blame your sleepy voice on something other than being asleep for the past 2 hours: “Nah man, I wasn’t asleep. It’s been that good of a party!” only to be snitched on by a raspy voice croaking, “honey… who is that? You’ll wake the baby.”
There’s no shame in your game, my friends.

Keep on livin’ la vida parent.



Potty Training Economics

My Luchadora wife recently developed a genius motivational system for the potty training of our two year old: the coveted Potty Treasure Chest.  It’s a Potty Pirates dream, filled with cheap, made-in-China,  dollar-store toys which give about 5 minutes of play time before they break.   No matter, though, because every time the little Pirate makes a deposit into the Bowl Bank, he is rewarded with a trip to the Treasure Chest!  Flawless system… so we thought.

Elias has made some big strides in the past three weeks, to the point where he informs us that it’s time for a deposit and a visit to the Treasure Chest.  The other day we were playing with some blocks when he suddenly pauses and, like a bloodhound picking up a scent, perks up his chubby face, sniffs and says, “I gotta go caca!”

I scoop him up and knock down the blocks as we answer the call.
“I get trevor chess!”  He yells as we swing around the corner and have the bathroom in sight.

“Si Elias, if you do caca, you get treasure chest.” I assure him.

I plop him on the Bowl Bank and he begins the deposit process with a few choice grunts and growls.   Just then, Yarei walks by the bathroom carrying Selah.

“Make sure it’s a big caca,” she says to me, matter-of-factly.  “Recently he’s been doing a series of little cacas instead of pushing it all out at once.  I told him he only gets treasure chest for a big caca.”

“Clever,” I thought. “He’s maximizing his caca power.”

“But how am I supposed to know if it’s a big one?” I asked, but she had already disappeared into Selah’s room.

Without missing a beat, Elias beams, “I did big caca!”

I inspect the deposit, and in my unprofessional opinion, it was not a “big caca.”  He was obviously holding out.

“No Elias.  Esa es caca chiquita.  Sientate y has mas caca” (sit and make more caca.)

“NO!! Es caca grande, no es caca chiquita!” came his protest.

“Eliiiias”, I cocked my head to the side and gave him what I thought was a “papi knows that’s a little caca” look.

“NO PAPI! ES CACA GRANDE! ES CACA GRANDE!” he pleaded with his eyes as if saying, this is the best i’ve got!

I was at a loss.  Without a set standard of caca grande vs. caca chiquita, I couldn’t argue with his claim.  I didn’t want to be accused of tampering with the Potty Training scales, because that opens up a whole pandora’s box of consequences.  What’s next, right is wrong and wrong is right? No absolute truth? I had to make a decision.

I studied the deposit one more time, rubbing my chin as I squinted at it. After a long pause that probably seemed like an eternity to him, I said.  “Ok… es caca grande.  Vamos al treasure chest!” I shouted in triumph.

“TREVOR CHESS!!!” He yelled at the heavens, fist in the air.

Just then, Yarei emerged from Selah’s room.  She peeked into the Bowl Bank.

“That’s a caca chiquita.”

Elias looked at me as if to say “I need absolutes to find my way in life.  Don’t mess this up.”

In my best authoritative voice I settled the issue.  “Look… unless you put some kind of scale in here to give me an absolute standard, I have to take his word for it.  It’s the law of cacanomics.”

And off we went on a quest for our friend Trevor Chess.

Elias checking the going rate for "caca grande".
Elias checking the going rate for “caca grande”.

The Science Fiction of Childbirth

Childbirth is a beautiful, awe-inspiring, and if we’re completely honest – shocking, event. Fortunately, I’ve watched enough sci fi to prepare me for both monumental births in my life. However, although sci-fi offers some impressive, mind-bending stories… none of those stories compare to human birth. A small, shrimp-like creature is implanted inside a woman’s belly, only to create it’s own life support system that allows it to grow into a duplicate human being… and after an exact amount of time, the life support system morphs into an escape pod which is ejected into another world. Star Trek? No… Selah Trek. And not matter how many times you’ve witnessed childbirth, I am convinced that no Oscar winning sci-fi makeup artist could ever match ALL the details involved in the creation of a new life… not even the guy from Alien.

And then there’s the common sci-fi theme of super human/mutant abilities. I thought I had seen it all between mutant strength, radioactive spider strength and “science experiments gone wrong” strength… but then I witnessed a new level… labor strength. You know that Snickers commercial, “You’re not yourself when you’re hungry”? I’d like to propose “You’re not yourself when you’re in labor”, and a guy shows up offering a woman who’s in the final stages of labor a Snickers bar… only to see his body blasted out of the room like a rag doll by her supersonic vocal powers yelling “GET OUT!”. According to the “Husband’s Unwitting Guide to Labor Help”, there’s a silent stage right before this stage where the mother may not connect with reality as she focuses on contraction rhythm. I seemed to have forgotten this stage, as I periodically asked her thoughtful questions such as,  “So… what do you wanna do when we get home?” and “Wanna finish watching that episode of the Office we had to stop because you went into labor?” Her only response was a slight moan, followed by a request for water. How rude. And then we entered the next stage…Super Sonic Black Hole. Without the aid of an epidural, and driven with sheer motherly power that could have imploded a black hole, Yarei began to push. And like a spaceship that draws in too close to a black hole, only to be sucked in by an unknown force, I was sucked into the labor zone by two arms that suddenly clung to my neck and yanked me down toward her while releasing a sonic boom of pain directly into my ear. Now, I had read in the “Unwitting” manual that you should speak encouraging words, focus on breathing, be kind, etc… but nowhere does it mention to “brace your neck and upper body for a sudden throttling motion that could snap your spine.” Suddenly, all those birthing scenes from romance comedies where the woman’s voice drops a couple octaves and the husband passes out take on a whole new meaning. But passing out was not an option for this space ship… oh no. Together with Yarei, I braced my neck, covered my ears, and engaged our united tractor beam on that escape pod.
“We’ve got a lock on the pod!” I encouraged her.
“My universal translator must be offline”, I thought.
“Mommy, use that yelling strength for pushing, then wait for me on the next one” said the midwife.
In an effort to help Yarei understand in her dazed condition, I translated: “Reroute all power to the engines and reverse the thrusters on the midwife’s mark!!” I yelled, forgetting I wasn’t supposed to yell.
“NNNNNNNNNNNNNGGGGGGGGGGGGG!!!!” came another puzzling, yet passionate response.

With a final push, we experienced a close encounter of a God kind as we witnessed the image of our Creator in our newborn child. And as the event horizon disappeared in our rear view mirror, we welcomed the second dwarf-class member of the Rivera crew.

I’m so glad I don’t watch horror movies.