latimes.com
170 holiday gift ideas
Lifestyle

Yard work? Sure, after his nap

The social contract that I've established with this toddler is that he follows me wherever I go and behaves exactly the way I behave. If I sneeze explosively, as dads often do, he is to sneeze the same way. If I wink at the cashier at the garden center, he is to wink as well. He's not so much my mirror image as a walking, talking mulligan. A human do-over. We waddle off on a Saturday morning like two ducks headed for a pond.

"Let's get some pumpkin seeds," I say as we load up the shopping cart at the garden center.

"How about morning glories?" he asks.

"Glories are good," I say, grabbing a pack of blue ones.

He sits in the metal basket, encouraging me as I shop, affirming my every choice. It's spring, even if the sun hasn't noticed yet. Time to sink our fingers into God's good earth.

"Radishes?" I ask.

"Why not?" the baby says.

We go to Blockbuster on Friday nights and can't find a thing we really like. But on Saturday mornings, here at the garden center, we want everything we see.

Cucumbers. Peppers. 'Early Girl' tomatoes. We pick up a pack of each.

Squash. Eggplant. Sweet corn. Fire up the tractor, Ma. The soil is calling.

Back home, the baby and I make a plan. Herbs here. Tomatoes over there. Hula-skirt grass over by the steps. We approach the job with a fisherman's optimism. For what is life without promise? What is spring without seed?

"Anticipation is everything," I tell the baby.

"It is?" the baby asks.

"Without hope, we have nothing," I explain.

"We don't?"

"Trust me," I say.

With much work ahead, we take a nap. Men of action need their sleep. Even superheroes get a little drowsy after major triumphs.

"But it's 9 a.m." my wife notes.

"We've been up since 7," I explain.

"Blahhhh," says the baby.

"See? He's exhausted," I say.

"Blaa, blaa, blaa," says the baby.

"Don't push it," I tell him.

I am an early and constant riser. At 7 a.m., I was walking both dogs, standing for what seemed like hours as they licked last night's rainwater from the neighbors' ivy. To them, it's better than Starbucks.

Then I wiped their muddy feet — that's eight very soggy, very reluctant paws — made coffee, ran out for doughnuts, bought a yellow calla lily for Easter, picked out 12 packs of seeds and returned to the house by 9 a.m., at which time I called around to see if our softball game was canceled due to rain. It was.

"Dad's been busy," notes the little girl.

"Thank you," I say.

"We've earned our rest," says the baby.

"Well put," I say.

"Jeeesh," says the wife.

A little nap, that's all. You'd have thought they caught me putting hemlock in their iced tea.

As a friend recently noted about wives, the personal traits they found so appealing in us in the first place now seem to annoy them the most. In my case, that's a smoldering sexuality and a keen intellect.

Plus, a spontaneous side that leads me back to bed at 9 in the morning for a quick nap, from which I'll awaken refreshed and more dynamic than ever.

Who'd she think she was marrying, a machine? No. She was marrying me. The Willy Wonka of the American suburb.

"Did Dad just take a nap?" the boy asks when I stumble from the bedroom.

"It was more like a short coma," I explain.

I have another plan. In addition to rehabbing the backyard for summer, I want to put in a dog wash. "A dog wash?" You must be saying to yourself. "How brilliant! How moist!"

Yes, a little dog wash over along the side of the house, where I currently store the wheelbarrow and the empty clay pots.

It'll be like a mini-shower for the dog, with a flexible nozzle and a tiled basin with a built-in seat. I'll be able to bathe the dogs without lifting them awkwardly into the utility sink. When I'm done, I can tie them in the sun to dry.

This dog wash will also be a great place to water potted plants or clean out beach coolers. It may be my most important backyard invention yet.

"You're building a what?" my wife asks.

"A dog wash," I say, " a place to wash the dogs."

"Naked?" asks the little girl.

"I'll be naked," I explain. "The dogs will be fully clothed."

"That's a good idea," says the boy.

"Thank you," I say.

"Dad," the little girl says.

"Huh?"

"Dogs don't wear clothes," she says.

OK, there are still a few kinks to work out.

But that's what we visionaries do. We dream. We hope. We nap. All in the name of creating a better world. All before 9 o'clock in the morning.

So far, the results have been sort of mixed.


Chris Erskine can be reached at chris.erskine@latimes.com.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
Related Content
  • Times Bookstore

    ++++++++++++++++++++ || || || ++++++++++++++++++++ || A compilation of 70 of the popular "Guy Chronicles" columns in the Los Angeles Times. Click here to purchase || ++++++++++++++++++++ || ++++++++++++++++++++

  • 170 holiday gift ideas
    170 holiday gift ideas

    Whether you want to stretch your dollars or splurge, we've got a gift for every budget.

  • Check out our tips on fashion, travel and holiday gifts
    Check out our tips on fashion, travel and holiday gifts

    This year, we've organized our gift guide around recipients — with suggestions for him, for her and for them (including pets, pals and pint-sized people). Going along with our holiday themes of comfort and joy, we've chosen items that speak to those sentiments, from SOLA's soft sweatshirt...

  • Holiday Gift Guides
    Holiday Gift Guides

    From macaron baking sets to yoga attire for men, from meditation headbands to flower-arranging classes … we’ve got a holiday gift guide to satisfy (almost) everyone on your list. Visit our holiday page for more gift guides.

  • Holiday Book Gift Guide: Great reading for the season
    Holiday Book Gift Guide: Great reading for the season

    Ready for some help with your holiday shopping? Our books gift guide is here. Find recommendations for mystery fans and history buffs, for texting twentysomethings and kids just learning to read. There are graphic novels, literary award-winners, audiobooks, and coffeetable books (one full of...

  • BMI may not be the last word on health risks, some experts say
    BMI may not be the last word on health risks, some experts say

    When you visit your doctor for a physical, it's likely that your exam will include a calculation of your body mass index, or BMI. It's also likely that your doctor will use the resulting score to assess your weight status and related health risks. But BMI is simply a measure of weight in...

  • 2014 in Review: David L. Ulin looks at the year in books
    2014 in Review: David L. Ulin looks at the year in books

    What was the upshot of my year in reading — the ideas, the through lines that most stirred or provoked me in 2014? The dominant thread was what we might call that of common experience, work that finds significance in incidental things.

  • 6 of the year's best baking books, plus Dorie Greenspan's matcha financier recipe
    6 of the year's best baking books, plus Dorie Greenspan's matcha financier recipe

    2014 has been a pretty fantastic year for baking books, with bakers and pastry chefs here in Los Angeles and around the country publishing books that are both pretty to look at and surprisingly user-friendly. These books also, perhaps needless to say, make for excellent gifts this time of...

Comments
Loading