That's Life
© 2010 P. Arthur Stuart
Updated May 20, 2018

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The Puzzle

When my daughter was three or four, I was teaching her how to count. I took out a puzzle and began to play-teach her to count. She had by that time pretty well mastered counting to ten. As I placed each piece of the puzzle down, I asked her, "What is that?" She would say one, two, three, and so on till we reached ten. When I put the eleventh piece down and ask her, "What is that?" She looked at me as though I was stupid and said, "It's a piece of the puzzle."


While we were stationed at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, we would spend lots of time at one of the beaches. The beaches were built with a rock breakwater to keep the waters calm and to discourage sharks and other large fish from entering. The breakwater had a four to five-foot-wide inlet, so that the tides could get in and out. My wife and I were snorkeling in this area when we spotted a small, about twelve inches or so, octopus. We surfaced and decided to see if we could catch it.

We got a can, that had a lit and off we went on our big game hunt. Our strategy was for me to nudge the octopus toward the can, where my wife was holding it. She would then capture it and put the lid on. We got set. I started to nudge the animal with a stick. It started moving towards my wife as planned, however just before it was about to enter the can, it changed its mind and went straight for my wife. It's the first and only time I heard a scream underwater.

Things Aren't Always What They Seem

When we lived in our first house, our neighbors had a son, the same age as our middle son, they were about four at the time. Let's call the neighbor's kid Charlie. Charlie spent most of the day with his grandmother because mom and pop worked. His grandmother spent lots of time playing with him and as a result he could converse with adult level speech. For his age he was quite articulate. We thought he was remarkably high above average.

Our son didn't seem to appear overly bright. He was for all outward appearances, just an average kid. So, when his second-grade teacher sent us a note, asking to see us, our imagination went wild and our thought was, "What kind of trouble is he in?"

To our astonishment and surprise, and I do mean astonishment and surprise, she told us that our son had tested at an above average level and she wanted our permission to enroll him in a special advanced learners program. She further went on to say she was glad he was in her class. We were speechless, with our mouths agape, I'm sure.

As it turned out Charlie was average.


I don't remember how old our daughter was when she swallowed a small bell, At the time she was very small. Even though she was our second child we were still young and inexperienced parents. We were a bit frantic and scared, so we went to the local Navy Hospital ER. When we got to see a doctor, my wife explained what happened and described the bell. The doctor picked my daughter up and placed his head near her stomach. He then gently shook her and said, "You're right, I can hear it." He told us not to worry and that it should pass in a few days, which it did.

Out of the Mouth of Babes

My daughter at the time was between one and two. She stood about eighteen inches and weighed about twenty pounds. Our little girl was on the floor playing with her toys but being very annoying. My wife said, "Beth stop that." Our daughter took a deep breath, looked sternly at my wife, and said, "Shut up bitch." I fled the room as quickly as I could because I didnít want to laugh in front of my wife.

Watch the Ball

As a youngster I was generally chosen first or second when choosing up sides for a game. While I was stationed at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba one of my associates got me interested in tennis. In the year that followed I studied how to hit the ball. Everyone said the most important thing to do is to watch the ball all the way to the racket. In fact, all sports where you have to hit an object, like hitting a baseball with a bat, you must keep your eye on the ball all the way till you hit it.

When my first son was old enough, we signed him up for little league. During the first couple of years his coaches were average guys. They lacked the ability to teach the kids that had the most difficulty. So, during those years, I worked with my son on hitting and catching. I told him repeatedly that the most important thing to do was to "watch the ball all the way to the bat." He'd say, "Sure dad" or words to that effect.

After those initial years, my son got a coach that really knew how to train kids to play. After one of his training sessions my son ran over to us extremely excited. I asked him why he was so excited. He said, "The coach taught me how to hit." I asked, "How's that?" My son replied, "You just got to watch the ball all the way to the bat."

Crying Baby

For the first six months of my daughter's life she cried continuously because of colic. Of course, we took her to the doctor, who told us that she is very healthy and that the colic should only last a few weeks. Yeah right! Everyone was telling us what we were doing wrong but after they took their turn watching her, which was done mostly out of sympathy for her and to give her time away from us, they'd rarely volunteered again. Just after she was born my mom came to help. She lasted two days then went home and in parting wished us good luck. To make our daughter comfortable we would just go for a ride in the car, which also gave us a respite of sorts, or put her on our wringer-washer which shook a lot. This seem to help a little.

During this period, we had moved into an apartment building. My wife is pretty sociable and became friends with the neighbors. One of her friends asked her if she would like her to babysit so that we could have an evening out. She accepted right away and told the neighbor what she was in for with our daughter. We found out later that she didn't believe her. The woman said that it would be okay. Although we felt a bit guilty because we knew what they were in for, we went anyway and had a good time. When we got home, we collected our kids and thanked them profusely; they looked worn out.

The next morning my wife and the neighbor got together for a cup of coffee and some talking. My wife was a bit surprise when the neighbor apologized. My wife was puzzled and asked about what. The woman went on to explain that the reason she and her husband had volunteered to babysit was to give our daughter a break from us. She went on to say that she thought that we were abusing her. She said that they looked her over from head-to-toe but couldn't find anything wrong. While she was there, she kept crying, and crying. She ended by saying she felt deeply sorry for us, but don't ask her to babysit "our daughter" again.

Who's the Favorite

I'm not sure why we did it, but I suspect one of our kids said something like, "You like him better than me." So, we sat the kids down and gave them two 3 X 5 cards. Our instruction was to do one card for mom and the other for dad. They were supposed to write down who was mom's favorite and why on mom's card and the same for dad on the other.

Note: for reference Kid A was male and 17, Kid B was female and 15, Kid C was male and 11, and Kid D was male and 8.

Some of the responses were:
* Mom loves Kid B more because she's a girl.
* Dad loves Kid C more because he does more with him.
* Mom and Dad love Kid A more because he's allowed to stay up later.
* Dad loves Kid D more because he lets him get away with more.

We explained as best we could. Kid A gets to stay up later because he's older and Kid B likes to go to bed early or she would also get to stay up later. Kid C does more with dad because they both like the same thing and Kids B and D often join in when they want. Kid A is not interested in having mom or dad tag along when he's with a girl, which is most of his free time. One-by-one we answered each one. I believe, when they, left the table they had a different perspective.

While I was teaching a seminar, I told this story. Most of the participants nodded their heads in agreement; I know what you're talking about. After the session ended a woman came up to me and said, "My kids know I love them all the same." I sincerely believe if you have more than one kid, they will believe the other is the favorite, in most cases, or that they are.