Monday, December 8, 2014

Words to the Wise

With any jungle, each tribe will have their own given language or signals. When in a jungle with natives, it is of particularly critical importance that one keeps certain expressions or thoughts to themselves. You see, natives have a way of twisting or just repeating those words at the most inopportune times.

For instance, if attempting to sooth a native on the subject of medicine men and their pointy tools, take great care of your language when playing “doctor” with them in preparation for examinations. Be especially cautious if the native’s educational instructors know that the care-takers have had some bouts of discrepancy in the past. If you do not heed this caution you may too be subject to panicked calls where you have to explain to preschool educator why your young native went to school and exclaimed rather dramatically that, “Daddy shot Mommy” yesterday. It will most definitely take several moments to diffuse said situation; and the educator may not find the double word meaning amusing.

Also, at times your exact words can be used against you with tone misconstrued. You see, as sophisticated as they are, natives cannot always deduce sarcasm. For instance, if you are having a spirited debate with your co-caretaker about chores to be done around the dwelling and then angrily stop off to another part of the cave… perhaps when the elder native appears to alert you that the co-caretaker is hurt, it may not be best to open with, “It’s okay, Daddy is just allergic to housework”. Because if in the event that “Daddy” is actually quite hurt and needs to seek medical assistance, you may look quite impervious to the healing professional as your native proudly answers their question of, “why are you here”, with, “Mommy says, Daddy is allergic to housework”.


In short friends, survival in the jungle takes on a whole new set of tactics when they enter their schooling years. Keep alert, keep safe, and if in doubt, keep your mouth shut. 

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Changes in the Jungle

The autumn air brings a familiar comfort and security; a feeling that has been severely lacking in the jungle as of late. You see in a maneuver that can only be considered as preposterous, I decided it was high time to pack up our dwelling and move the natives and myself to a whole new jungle many miles away from their familiar surroundings.

The natives greeted the change with their own variety of emotions. In one moment they were enthralled with the idea of a jungle where they could see sun in the summer and majestic snow in the winter. They were convinced also that the move would locate them closer to their highest sought out location of the North Pole, assuredly to break into the workshop and maneuver their names onto the big guy’s “good list”. (This was a cute notion until after we had arrived at our new jungle and I observed them loudly proclaiming that every overweight male with white hair was none other than Santa himself. Most were amused by this; however one man seemed to find the “bowl full of jelly” comparison to his midsection less than amusing.)

They also had moments of anger about the situation during preparations. I awoke one morning amidst packing boxes and materials to find the younger native intensely staring at me. It wasn't in that sweet way of admiring his caretaker, it was more of a plotting despise that was pasted on his face. When he saw I was awake he muttered that he was going to “take care” of me and then ran off with my spectacles. I lay there frozen wondering if that was a sweet gesture to clean my glasses or if perhaps he was plotting my demise.

The elder native dealt with the changes by appearing to be pleased with the situation but then not-so-silently criticizing everything I did, (though in hindsight that could have had nothing to do with the impending move). To try to ease the tension one evening I brought the natives to one of their favorite eateries and announced that they could eat breakfast for dinner. This offering was met with some enthusiasm. However on the ride home the older native announced that his tummy hurt. No sooner could I turn around then he was discharging his poorly chewed dinner all over the backseat. When he finished, he announced with great disgust it was my fault for improperly cutting his pancakes.

Somehow or another we did manage to make the move to our new jungle. While our new jungle is being constructed we are residing in a temporary dwelling with other dwellings above and below us. This is presenting a lovely new set of challenges. But that is a story for another day… 

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Lego Battles… Day Two

It had occurred to me that in efforts to avoid confrontation with the natives, I had perhaps not required as much room tidying from them as I should have. In their constant battles waged against me, their caretaker, I have observed one that gives them particular pleasure is throwing their toys around the jungle and then leaving the damage for me to attend to. The younger native in particular appears to take great pride and pleasure in showering the jungle floor with toys and then refusing to pick them up.

As a caretaker of natives, one must pick and choose their battles wisely. For me, the battle picked itself when the young native watched as I tidied up the entire jungle and then with a sinister smile showered Legos and other building blocks over the entire section of the jungle where I conduct my journal entries. I mustered my best composed fa├žade and informed the little dear that it was his job and his alone to pick up these blocks. I did not particularly care that he wanted to go in the other room to watch the television to see a young woman perform surgery on a stuffed animal; if he didn’t pick them up he was not leaving the room.

I walked tall out of the room full of confidence and patting myself on the back for my excellent caretaker skills and decisions… And as with most self-celebrations of my parenting excellence in the jungle, this too would be short lived.

Morning quickly turned to afternoon and the young native had stilled not picked up his toys. I tried to entice him with a treat from the local market where we would shop later that day to no avail. As afternoon turned to evening I dangled the opportunity to view a motion picture prior to slumber to peak his interest…no dice. Finally I proclaimed that no stories would be read no songs sung prior to bedtime if the blocks were not properly returned to their rightful place, to which he informed me that he could sing his own songs and probably better than me.  

As the dawn emerged on day two I felt surely today was the day, the native would have a change of attitude and further he would someday appreciate me and the lessons I had passed onto him; (these are amongst the other little lies a caretaker tells oneself to make it through the day as we are not allowed to consume wine while “on the job”.) After numerous baits were cast of smoothies, breakfast pastries, and possible outings I felt I was time to take a new approach. I informed the native that if he did not pick up the toys right then he would be attending a long “timeout” in his cave. He proclaimed that, that sounded a whole lot better because I was driving him crazy, then marched himself to his sleeping chambers and shut the door.

Though I am not ready to admit defeat, I fear I was not prepared for the level of the sheer persevering will that this young native appears to possess. Perhaps I shall put myself on a brief timeout in my cave for reflection on the situation.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Native Magic

It is customary in the jungle when a native turns three to accompany him to an expedition out of the jungle to a magical land of fantasy; a place where princesses walk among beloved mice, bears, and other creatures. It also performs a fascinating trick of emptying the wallet of all caretakers that enter its “magical kingdom”.

After a 6 hour, (surprisingly pleasant) car ride we had arrived. For good measure I invited the saintly visitors, (known as Grandma and Papa) to accompany us on our journey; an action which was instantly regretted upon arrival when the Grandma held a pair of black lace panties in the air and loudly inquired if these were to go with us to the hotel rooms or if they were simply car panties. I am beginning to see where the elder native gets his lust for embarrassing me in public places.

After doing the fastest sprint of my life from the check-in desk to the car, stuffing my “car panties” in my pocket and tipping the bellman whose face now matched his crimson shirt, we proceeded to caves that would be our dwellings for the next 5 days. In the cave where the natives and I would stay, were many wonderful surprises. For the birthday boy there were banners, balloons and presents with a signed card from the big Mouse himself. However the natives, though slightly amused by the offerings were more enthralled to examine the room service menu, the miniaturized toiletries and most importantly two phones. It took a grand total of 2 minutes being in the dwelling before a call came in from security that one of the natives had already used the phone to call 911; (no doubt his royal highness had decided I was taking too long to do something or other). And so our journey began…

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Insufficient Arrangements

With the upcoming anniversary of the younger native’s birth I had a hypothesis that traveling with the natives to a magical land for the celebration would be a welcomed change and a glorious distraction from the dreadful behavior that had afflicted the jungle over the last several months. In the early stages of planning I held high hopes that removing the small creatures from their native land would provide a wonderful distraction and hoped it would bring a positive behavior modification. However if the preparation for our upcoming journey is any indication of how the excursion will go then I believe I should fear for my life.

The eldest of the natives has never believed me to be a fit caretaker. Any suggestion I put forth is usually met with a snarl or eye roll. Today is no different; he appears displeased in my packing skills as well as my voice, appearance and seemingly the fact that I exist.

The youngest is dealing with the pending change in environment with grand displays of disgruntlement. Apparently it is customary for natives to throw themselves onto the jungle floor and emit ear piercing screams over issues such as whether or not to put on ones shoes, or receiving a red cup instead of a blue cup.

Resting assuredly that I am doing just about everything wrong I will give up for the night and pray for adequate sleep to continue preparations tomorrow. To cope with the hostility I shall retreat to my hiding place as I gather emergency supplies to distract the natives on this weekend’s long journey.

If you do not hear from me in a few days please send a search party as I fear the eldest is plotting a coup.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Here Come the 3's

Dearest friends, a recent reign of terror in the jungle has kept me from logging current entries. I am cautiously stepping out of my hiding space to get word to you, though I fear the silence may be a trap while the natives wait at the boarders with another series of attacks. When I entered this expedition 4 ½ years ago I was warned of many things, sleepless nights, affected appearance, slim to no contact with the outside world… However there were also many misleading tidbits. For instance, all who enter these long term expeditions are warned of the stage the call the “terrible twos”. What they neglect to report is what comes next, the stage I lovingly refer to as, the “Utterly Terrifying Threes”.

From my observations, when a young native reaches this stage you have several options:

1.       Duck and Cover

2.       Bring in Extra Caretakers

3.       Cautiously, as so not to get bitten… present the young native with offerings daily, let him or her worship the moving picture box, send them outside and pray for the best.

I opted to try all three of these with little to no avail. You see the “Utterly Terrifying Threes” are not a stage to be taken lightly. This is a place in a young native’s life where they make it their mission to turn your world upside down from sun up to sun down to make you long for the days of sleep deprivation and spit up.

My youngest native was no different. In fact, he was substantially worse in behavior then his older sibling. Days would start just after dawn; an eerie feeling would creep over me as my once peaceful slumber was interrupted by a sound… footsteps, could it be that the monster is awake..? Sometimes I would be lucky enough to have a few minutes of peace before it began but other days I would wake up to the native preforming his “dive bomb” maneuver onto my sleeping body to alert me that his highness was up and ready to be catered to.

One of the native’s most entertaining games was to see to what degree he could cause me to have a heart attack. This often came in the form of slipping out of my grasp while in public and running as fast as he could towards the street where passersby and motor vehicles went speeding by. Once he even found his way past a series of intricate locks to escape the jungle entirely. I found him escaping through the front of the jungle and trying to make a break for it.

When the shock factor no longer provided entertainment he took to embarrassing me instead. As a caretaker of two young male natives I am used to a good deal of public displays that require my attention. However this young native found new delightful ways to pull me into his play. His favorite was to shout at innocent women in the grocery store. Something about a shopping cart turned him into a self-proclaimed super hero. And apparently captain groceries’ job was to point at women minding their own business to yell, “there’s a bad man, get him!!!” and then expect me to charge at said “man” who was only trying to collect her apples and pretend she wasn’t just insulted and had her gender questioned by a 3 year old.

With the summer months quickly approaching I am hopeful for some reprieve by sending the natives outdoors to their natural habitat. Sun and water seem to calm the miniature hulk and his older sibling. Just to be sure I have enlisted the help of another brave caretaker to assist with conducting some of the native’s activities.

I am cautiously optimistic to report I have survived another winter and spring within the indoor jungle. But we are not out of the woods yet, as the young native’s birthday approaches I feel a new era is on the horizon… it’s outcome has yet to be known.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Jungle Infirmary

Greetings dear friends, I apologize for the long gap of absence in between entries. You see, life in the jungle is not just an amusing anecdote, for me it is real life. About one month ago I was awoken at 4 in the morning by footsteps at the entry to my cave. This is not an unusual occurrence; it is typically the tell-tale sign of a native who has had a bad dream and needs to share my sleeping chamber for the remainder of the night. When I heard coughing coming from the young native at 4:30 I began to wonder if maybe he was coming down with something. When I awoke again an hour and a half later to the young native rendering my bedding and the majority of my room uninhabitable by means of expulsion I had no more questions. The following days and weeks were a blur of thermometers, doctors, Amoxicillin, body fluids, (none of which actually belonged to me) and as much disinfectant as could be found from Target.

The younger native tried to help me in the early days of this plague before he ultimately succumbed to the illness himself. He felt that I required assistance in upkeep of the jungle as I was tending to the older native. He did many chores for me such as washing the bathroom floor. It perhaps would have been more productive had he not first used the commode and then used that water to wash the floor but I suppose I wasn’t in a position to complain. And while I found it very thoughtful that he had the foresight to prepare dinner while I attempted to clean up from the older native’s latest re-decoration of his room, I would have perhaps chosen to be hungry instead of entering the kitchen to find that he had prepared me a lovely offering of cereal and milk… minus the bowl.

Eventually all three of us had fallen to what I can only imagine was the second coming of the plague. While I find observing and caring for the natives on a normal day challenging; I must say that doing so while severely under the weather is a whole new level of tasking; however one finds creative, albeit not perfect ways to survive. Am I proud of telling the natives that we were playing hospital and I was the patient whose job was to lie as still and silent as possible on the couch as they performed surgery on the bear on the rug? Not particularly, but on a happy note, the bear is in stable condition and I’m told will make it. Am I proud of bringing the younger native into my sleeping chamber, turning on Disney, giving him the iPad and letting myself succumb to the cold medicine at 7:30 at night when I was fatigued and he was wide awake? (Yes, that one I actually found to be rather smart). The bottom line, we caretakers do the best we can with what we’re given.

It has been an excruciating few weeks in the jungle; but I am happy to report that the natives (and I) are on the mend. This became apparent when their surge of energy returned to them to continue about their ways of normalcy in terrorizing the jungle and myself, their caretaker. Stay safe and healthy friends; the jungle is not a place for the weary and it smells oddly of toilet water.