School is out. This is a treacherous time for parents. My boys, Boy A and Boy B, twin six-year-olds, we try to keep them as busy as possible during the summer. There's basketball camp and there's vacation bible school and there's swim lessons and drums practice and underground kiddie cage fighting and so on. We do this in part because exposing children to new things and situations is almost always good for them, but mostly we do it because HOLY FUCK THEY NEVER EVER STOP TALKING WHEN THEY'RE HOME.
Like, never. June and July, I expend a significant amount of energy attempting to dodge their queries* and requests. From 4 p.m. to 8:15 p.m., I only aspire to have this conversation:
Boy A: Daddy, can you...
*The last, most fluid conversation the boys had between each other was a spirited debate about whether or not sharks peed.
Monday afternoon though, OMG this AWFUL Monday afternoon, I got cornered into working on a 100 piece shark puzzle with both of them I clicked on Songza to soundtrack the event. Some notes:
**Songza is a music streaming site. It's kind of like Pandora, but it's "kind of like" Pandora the same way that a kick in the junk is "kind of like" getting a handjob. They're a little the same, but they're totally different. The way Songza is better: Its stream isn't really a random stream, it's a curated playlist compiled by people that know how to curate a playlist. Everything is categorized and compartmentalized. When I visited the site, I was offered several lists of songs that, per Songza, would be ideal for a Monday afternoon. I chose the category "Hanging Out at Songza," and then from there chose a playlist titled "Players Holiday," described with the tag "Kick back poolside in your all-white linens and turn up this undeniably classic collection of laid-back summer rap hits." It seemed like something that would help me not murder-suicide the boys and myself after working on the puzzle for three minutes, so that's why I picked it.
**If you think your kid is smart, give him or her a puzzle not made specifically for kids. The one the boys and I worked on was a shark one. (It was a great white shark swimming through the fossilized jaws of a Megalodon.) The whole background of the puzzle was blue. Like, ALL of it. It's just fucking water. I don't know why anyone would ever even design a puzzle like that. We worked on it for all of 20 seconds before I wanted to jump rightthefuck through the window.
**Per the boys, a Megalodon is "the biggest shark ever -- he was a million and fifty hundred feet long and weighed 100 pounds." I suspect their measurements aren't entirely correct.
**Songs that Songza attempted to use to neutralize the fury that grew in my bones: N.W.A.'s "Express Yourself" (not bad); Tupac's "I Get Around" (the best part: Boy B humming the melody while he jammed puzzle pieces together); Guru's "Loungin";
Lil Kim's "Drugs" (remember when she was a human?); Ice Cube's "It Was A Good Day" (I'd like to point out that Cube's good day did not involve shark puzzles); Twista "Slow Jamz" (skip); Snoop's "Drop It Like It's Hot"; Public Enemy's "He Got Game"; The Roots' "Dynamite"; Big Punisher's "Still Not A Player" (gorgeous); Digable Planets' "Jettin'"; etc.
**Music is good for keeping these sorts of situations light, to be sure. But it can only do so much. Putting that puzzle together, OH MY GOD PUTTING THAT PUZZLE TOGETHER, my head felt like how it'd probably feel if it was pushed down to the bottom of the deepest ocean trench. No music was helping with that. Goddamn Mother Teresa wasn't helping with that.
**The boys worked on the puzzle for maybe 15 minutes before they became disinterested. They started playing with Play-Doh and trying to ride a skateboard in the house. I worked on it for an additional ten minutes after they quit. Then I tried to ride the skateboard around the house too. Wife came down from putting Boy C to sleep and finished it in maybe four minutes. Girls are waaaaay smarter than boys.
I'm glad I didn't have to choke anyone out. I'm glad Songza is a thing.