LA CROSSE, WIS — Area dad Gary Veldheering, now in his sixth week working from home, is struggling to manage the amount of children’s activities he must supervise alongside handling work responsibilities.
The weary father of four had a particularly difficult experience blowing bubbles Sunday. What started as an innocent backyard patio-based activity soon devolved into a slick, dangerous mess.
Early Sunday afternoon, Veldheering took his daughter, Sophie, and two sons, Brennan and Jackson, to the backyard to engage in light recreational activities. Twelve-year-old Brennan and eight-year-old Jackson began playing with a wiffle ball and bat while Sophie, five, broached the idea of blowing bubbles.
Veldheering obliged, thinking he could simply sit in a lawn chair on his back deck, cleanly blow a few bubbles every 15 minutes, and largely tune out in the afternoon sunshine.
He was wrong.
Trouble began immediately when Veldheering had difficulty retrieving the bubble wand from inside the container, leading to an index finger and thumb covered in syrupy solution.
Annoyed but emotionally persevering, Veldheering then began blowing several consecutive rounds of bubbles using multiple dips into the bottle, which led to the formation of several small puddles of bubble solution on his newly-stained deck below.
Veldheering, already on simmer due to a dozen new emails from work, became disgruntled upon noticing the puddles. After a brief internal flurry of self-criticism, Veldheering decided to swipe the bottom of his shoe over the puddles, hoping that the maneuver would help them evaporate faster and not leave stains.
Unfortunately, the bottoms of the garden shoes Veldheering had slipped on were dirty, so he ended up creating a slippery streak of mud and bubble solution. Sophie, wanting more bubbles, then sat down directly in the slick muddy spot and began whining at Veldheering.
Meanwhile in the yard, Brennan had begun pulling up chunks of turf and hitting them at his brother with the wiffle ball bat.
“Goddammit, Brennan,” Velheering shouted toward the yard as he squeezed his fingers back into the container to retrieve the wand that had fallen back into the solution.
After several failed attempts to grasp the wand, Veldheering’s right hand took on more bubble solution. He then switched hands hoping to be able to better pinch the wand between dry fingers.
However, Veldheering failed to account for the additional lubrication added to his right hand, and the 64 ounce container quickly slipped out of his grasp, flopped sideways onto the deck below, and sent a thin, shimmering pool of bubble solution across his deck in a widening circle.
“But I’m not done with bubbles!” Sophie then shrieked.
Veldheering, who also has an itemized invoice to review and a departmental expense report to finish, became audibly enraged at the sight of the mangled container and solution now starting to congeal in the sun.
“Ah Christ, it’s all over everything!” Veldheering shouted.
Sharon, Veldheering’s wife, heard the commotion and intervened shortly thereafter.
“Boys, you go find something else now. Sophie, you leave your father be,” she announced from the sliding back door. “Gary, why don’t you just come in and relax for a bit? You know how you get.”
Reporter Greg Lovell contributed to this article.