ShoreBilly's Swill on ShoreBread

I’ve mentioned here many times before, that as long as I have a job as a bartender in a resort town, and four kids, I will always have plenty to write about. Both wells are deep, and neither will ever run dry. Lately, my children have been hitting me with a maelstrom of sound bites, so it got me thinking about all of the entertaining things they’ve each said and done over the years. I started jotting them down in my omnipresent little green notebook, and before I knew it, there was more than enough for a column.

I’m going to exclude my children’s names for a myriad of reasons, but I’ll refer to them by the numbers 1 through 4. My son who is now 22 years old will be referred to as Child # 1. My soon to be 9-year-old daughter, Child # 2; my two and a half-year-old daughter will be Child #3, and of course, my 18-month-old daughter will be Child # 4.

The following happened when Child #1 was approximately three or four. I was in my 20’s, and still a rookie parent, so I clung to some of the age old parent clichés and techniques to guide me. That in mind, there are certain little truths in life that just can’t be explained. For example, the sound of an adult counting out loud is very intimidating to a small child. You can get a child to do just about anything you need them to do simply by saying, “I’m gonna count to 5 and…” It really doesn’t matter how you end that sentence, you have already set the child in motion. Now that I think about it, the technique would still work on me to this day. If my wife used it on me, I guarantee I’d have completed the task before she got to 5.

So anyway, I had apparently already made the request of my son more than once to perform whatever task it was, which I don’t even recall. Finally, in a stern voice, I said those dreaded words. Of course it worked; he jumped up and immediately took off. He got about six steps away, stopped dead in his tracks, and turned back to me with a look in his eyes that was a perfect combination of fear, and genuine curiosity. He then eagerly asked,

“Dad, what happens when you get to 5?”

Well hell, I don’t know. No one has ever gotten to 5 before. It’s standard parental operating procedure that once you get to 4, you start throwing in fractions after that. I’ve never even heard tell of someone getting to 5.

I just stood there like a goof. I felt like I had just been given a pop quiz on a subject matter I had not gone over at all, and my grade for the semester depended on it. I stared at him dumbfounded for a second or two as I regained my composure and the upper hand. I’ve always made it my policy to never lie to any of my children about anything. They don’t necessarily have to know full truths, but I never lie to them. So I looked this curious, cherubic little boy in the wide eyes and said in the most firm voice I could muster,

“I don’t know, but it’s really bad!”

He looked at me as if that were a perfectly acceptable answer and said, “OK, thanks!” He then turned and ran off to complete his task.

When Child #2 was about four she was in her car seat in the back as we drove by a small lake. It was a chilly day but the surface of the lake was still covered with geese. We looked at each other in the mirror when we needed to chat. She looked at me with a furrowed brow and complete curiosity when the following exchange took place:

C #2: “Hey Dad.”

Me: “Yeah Sweetie.”

C # 2: “When geese get cold, do they get people bumps?”

Once again, a curve thrown at me by one of my kids and I swung right through it. Child # 3 has this fun new game that she likes to play. She wants to convey what a big girl she is by getting into my van all by herself. It makes her feel good and I see no harm in it, so sometimes I’ll let her. I let her climb in on her own, and then have sort of free reign for a minute or two while I load groceries, or her sister, or whatever else needs to go in the vehicle. When the time comes, she climbs up into her seat and I strap her in. Just last week, she found a way to be resourceful during that free time and mess with her Dad all at once. In the minute or so that she was free to roam, she must have touched every single button and gadget in the vehicle. When I turned the key, the stereo was turned all the way up, the wipers were on full blast, my high beams were on, the heat was blowing as high as it could go, and somehow, she even found a way to turn up the brightness of my dashboard lights. I still haven’t found that control. It’s like playing a video game now when I drive at night. Needless to say, when I started the car, I had the Twinkies scared out of me. I jumped and screamed, and all three of my little girls got a good laugh at Daddy’s expense.

Child # 4 evidently now fancies herself the flatulence police. If she hears one – and I’m pretty sure she’s got the hearing sense of a German shepherd – she feels it her civic duty to announce it, identify the culprit, and inform everyone within ear shot who the guilty party is. She does this by pointing at the offender and saying as loud as her little pixie voice will allow her,


It’s no big secret that my entire gastrointestinal process is an amusement park of sorts, so this little punk takes every chance she can to kick me under the bus. I always thought that one of the greatest reasons to have kids or a dog is so that you’d have someone to blame them on if you found yourself in an awkward situation. Not a chance with this little fart narc around.

Thanks for playing along everybody. We’ll come back to this from time to time.

Until next week,

Syd Nichols