The flour did not prepare me

I was 16 years old and carrying a five-pound bag of flour around the halls of Willard High School. Because the flour was wrapped in a baby blanket and wearing a diaper–and because I was supposed to carry it with me everywhere I went–I was meant to understand that parenting is a great responsibility. I was also supposed to gather that complete abstinence was the only way I wouldn’t have to carry a sack of flour around for the rest of my youth. If, God forbid, I did forget to abstain, I should always wear a condom, because otherwise…well, the flour thing.

When Flour Baby Week was over, my friends drove down highway AB and pounded the accelerator while a co-conspirator threw their All Purpose Progeny out in front of the bumper. The horror…the white clouds of horror… This was my teenage parenting education in a nutshell. Don’t screw. If you do screw, wear a condom. Otherwise, you’re going to have to eat biscuits for the rest of your life.

It’s taken me a couple of decades to understand that what I learned back in high school health class may not have been entirely accurate. On my way home from dinner tonight, I conceived of a new training method that I hope to take back to Willard High and sell for a bundle.

See, back then, we also had driving simulators. They were the types of things we could slip into for a little fun after watching “Blood Flows Red on the Highway.” My new parenting education training videos will require the student to sit in the driver’s seat under this scenario:

It’s spitting rain and on the edge of darkness as you drive down a semi-crowded four-lane blacktop. A five-month old baby is shrieking so loudly, you honestly consider the possibility he is a torture device and that you have been targeted for a government endurance experiment. Beside the baby, a five-year old kid is howling at the top of his lungs, and only doing so to see if he can be louder than the crying baby. You can’t bring yourself to reach for the knob on the radio and turn up the music because Hair Nation has started playing Trick or Treat by Fastway and it’s almost as bad as the crying. Almost. Your stomach turns because you just ate a meal inside of five minutes because, although the dinner you just attended seemed peaceful from the outside, your wife insisted you get the check as soon as the food came because, “the way the baby is arching his back, I know we’re in trouble.” And so you shove half a ribeye in your mouth and barely have it chewed when the five-year old announces he has to go to the bathroom and he doesn’t have to pee. This seems ridiculous because it’s been just two hours since the kid walked into the Home Depot and announced the same thing. While marching through the bar, you decide public places trigger a gastrointestinal necessity in your son and you will never take him outside again. Back at the table, the baby is gurgling and only seems vaguely amused at his father, who is now shoving the second half of the ribeye in his mouth at once. “Do you want a to-go cup?” the waitress asks and you refrain from saying, “Do you have a I-Wish-I-Hadn’t-Come Cup?” And so it’s $55 and into the rain with a streak not even close to digested and into the car with a baby who is about to get cranked up, a kid who is about to try to get more attention than his brother, an XM radio that insists on playing horrible music, and a wife who is laughing because “This is what parenting is all about.” And so, at 45 miles per hour in the rain, every bit of this noise is pounding through every ear and your wife gets a text message requesting that you provide business advice for someone she knows and would now be a good time to talk about that?

That, my audience of horny 16-year-old boys, is what you’ll get if you don’t wear a condom.

When we finally pulled in the neighborhood, my wife heard me mutter, “Parenting: It makes herpes feel like heaven!”

And, yeah, I felt a little guilty.

See, in reality, I had a great day with my family. We went to the pumpkin patch and enjoyed our time together. Now, just an hour removed from the hell in the car, both kids are in bed asleep and my wife is across the room and vowing to not say anything irrational or illogical. It’s peaceful and makes me remember that the tough moments are by far outweighed by the good stuff.

Still, I bet there are some teenagers out there who could benefit from my training program. I guarantee you, if every 16 year-old kid in America had to sit through one screaming, insane car ride a day, he would think more than twice about slipping it to Sally In the Stands.

The moral: Bags of flour only make noise when you hit them with your car and the baby you really breed won’t smell nearly as good as a biscuit.

Brad Willis

Brad Willis is a writer based in Greenville, South Carolina. Willis spent a decade as an award-winning broadcast journalist. He has worked as a freelance writer, columnist, and professional blogger since 2005. He has also served as a commentator and guest on a wide variety of television, radio, and internet shows.

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7 Responses

  1. Uncle Ted says:

    Certainly that ‘scenario’ can’t be anything close to your real life.
    All I saw in my 15 minutes with you today was the non-herpes version of cool.

  2. Jodi Timpson says:

    It really ticks me off when ‘the controllers of education’ come up with silly crackpot schemes that are apparently designed to prepare kids for the rigours of the ‘real world’.

    I had a similar experience at school. We were made to look after an un-boiled egg for a week! Ridic!!

  3. Ruth says:

    I feel like young Otis in a retail store. I laughed so hard I had to pee. No words – except that you should absolutely submit this for publication somewhere.

  4. Gary Schafer says:

    That was the funniest thing I have read in a darned long time. I heard Ruth laughing from the other end of the house, and by the time I got there she had been reduced to tears and incoherent gibbering. I agree with Ruth; I recommend submitting that one for publication. In Boy’s Life, maybe? It’s priceless, largely because it is all so TRUE.

    Sally in the Stands?!!? Reuben Barry would be proud.

  5. otis says:

    There are probably only half a dozen people who read this who would’ve caught the Sally in the Stands reference. Glad it hit it’s mark!

  6. Simone says:

    OH WOW! I am still laughing.. Great stuff. Do you have anything to make Sally think twice? I have girls!

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