Monthly Archives: March 2013
Daddy Was Up Late, Sooooo…
I went to a tweetup here in my neck of the woods in New England. My first-ever tweetup, in fact, which gave me the chance to meet a lot of cool people in my state, the vast majority of whom I’ve only ever before interacted with personally via Twitter. Lots of fun, lots of drinking (though I only got one beer since I had to drive), tasty appetizers aplenty, and good people.
Also, a late night. Which got later when we returned home. Number-one son is home for part of his Spring Break, with girlfriend in tow to meet his mom and check out the part of the world he considers home. We corralled them to watch the little girl goddess while the wife and I went out for a rare night together sans child, but then of course we got caught up in the late-night conversations that traditionally take place around here in the kitchen, made longer since there were four of us this time rather than three.
Don’t tell the goddess that these talks happen; she’ll feel left out, refuse to go to sleep and then sneak down to eavedrop, probably.
All this is a long-winded way of saying that while I can ramble on (as I already have), I don’t have anything much to say, so…um…since I’m in a joyous and not-hungover mood, here’s a photo of my wife and daughter dancing from summer 2012 (yeah, that’s my pale-ass leg):
She’s Getting the Funny…Gradually
As with most kids, teaching or explaining humor, particularly grown-up jokes, is a challenge. Our little goddess, though, at least began to recognize (and use) sarcasm early. Must be genetic. One of the first big words I learned from my mom was facetious and as you might guess, she used sarcasm often. I got bad pun-making from my dad.
One of the earliest “good” jokes my girl finally learned (a couple years ago now, I think) was:
Why did the cookie go to the doctor?
… I don’t know. Why?…
… Because he was feeling crummy!
Get it? Crummy? Crumb-y? Cookies crumble…Heh he hee…. Yeah, you’re all grown-ups; you figured it out.
For a while, she’d tell that joke between three and 10 times a day. You think that Larry the Cable Guy and Lisa Lampanelli know how to wear out a routine and drive it so deeply in the ground that the funeral services have to be held in China? Well, they ain’t got nuthin’ on my girl!
Anyway, for a year or more now, the wee one has been trying to craft her own jokes. Knock-knock jokes, punchline jokes, puns…you name it. Not with much success, mind you. They almost never make any sense.
But just yesterday, in the car:
Daddy, why did the peanut go to the doctor?
… I don’t know, Honey. Why? …
…He was feeling nutty!
By the way, my wife figured it out a split-second before our girl actually spit out the punchline, so kudos to her. But, at last, my daughter has made a legitimate joke. Also, even more to her credit (and astuteness), our girl realized there was a slight flaw in her joke, and noted she probably should have said therapist instead of doctor. For what it’s worth, I also suggested that using almond or pecan might work better, as they don’t have nut in their name and would be less likely to give the punchline away.
Just wait until we hit the road with a polished routine. We’ll be a hit in the dinner clubs in Florida that are filled with retirees, and whomever is still alive in the borscht-belt circuit, I bet.
Deacon Blue Version 45.0
On Sunday, I turned 45. But it was Palm Sunday, and my 7-year-old goddess wanted to go to church to honor the son of God rather than letting me have a heretical sleep-in day, so 45 didn’t seem so old after all. Jesus is what…pushing 2,046 years old now?…so I won’t complain about being halfway through my 40s.
A time for minor self-reflection anyway, though. I’ve known my 21-year-old son for what is now approaching 18 years, and later this year I’ll clock in a “sweet 16” years of marriage to his mom. By the end of July, I will have been a biological father for eight years (well, with diaper changing duties, at least; I guess I should count those nine-ish months in the womb as well and make it 8.75 years of bio-fatherhood by July).
I don’t know if I’ve been the best father and husband, but I like to hope I’m at least in the top 80th or 90th percentile (70th? Please don’t say 50th or 60th…). No one’s complained overly much about my performance in either role (well, not daily, anyway), so I’m going to assume I’m doing all right. Good thing, too, because I’m getting too old to change much.
But anyway, it made my birthday to get this card from my little goddess-girl:
When I open the googly-eyed cover, what does the card read inside?
“…from your smart-ass kid!”
It seems my daughter found the card before my wife realized she was rooting around the more grown-folk cards. But, but that time, it was too late. They both realized I’d get a big chuckle out of it (I guess my goddess-girl is starting to “get” me), and so my wife relented in letting our daughter pick it out for me. Besides, she’s heard a lot worse than “ass” come out of my mouth…it’s a family tradition; you should have heard some of the words and colorful phrases my cool-as-hell-and-still-miss-her-a-lot mom popped off with when I was a kid).
I mean, my daughter was practically crawling out of her skin for me to open the card the night before my birthday because, as she put it, “I really love to hear your laugh, Daddy.” But I made her wait until the morning for her to get that payoff.
Now, I’d be remiss to leave out my wife’s contribution. She got me a fancy 3-D textured card with faux parchment pages inside instead of just the usual cardboard:
Inside that card, aside from the normal romantic/sweet pre-printed sentiments, my wife wrote a little note. But we’ll leave that between her and I…oh, it wasn’t anything salacious, you pervs (God love ya for being that way, though), but still, it’s that from-the-heart stuff, and I don’t want to go ruining my wife’s hard-earned tough-but-fair, bacon-eating-but-also-yoga-practicing reputation.
In short, glad to have another year on the planet to be a husband, as I don’t know what I’d do with myself without my wife. Glad to have another year under my belt as a dad; even though the goddess can drive me up a frakin’ wall sometimes, I find it hard to imagine life without her and already dread the day she leaves our home. Overjoyed to see my son find success in college and in his music and elsewhere. And, frankly, glad to be starting another year of life to fling prose at folks like you, in yet another blog (but please, someone knock me out if I try to start yet another one next year without killing off an existing blog).
So, it’s Deacon Blue version 45.0. I doubt version 45.1 next month will look much different, nor will v46.0 in another twelve, but let’s hope I do learn a few new and valuable things along the way.
Oh, and as an addendum, this from my little girl…
What makes this special isn’t necessarily the minimalist, semi-abstract painting style (I mean, her painting can be pretty cool but her drawing is where it’s really at right now) but rather the sentiment behind it. The petite goddess went to bed very late on Saturday night (after 10) and, as is typical (even though we didn’t outright say it this time but dammit she knows better), she’s not supposed to get up early when she goes to bed late.
Despite this, it turns out she got up at around 7 a.m. to start watching Netflix on the iPad. However, when I got out of bed at eight to put the percolator on so that my wife would have coffee available well before 9 o’clock rolled around, my little girl had temporarily relocated from her room upstairs to her painting nook downstairs. And she told me, as I came downstairs, “Don’t look, Daddy, I’m painting something for your birthday.”
Later, when I was up and about for real, this is what I was allowed to finally look at. So, given her loving vibe of wanting to spend some of her prized weekend screen-time to paint me something really early in the day, I’ll forgive that whole “getting up way before she should have” thing.
Future Foodie? Budding Artist? How About Both
I know I’ve alluded to it before, but the little goddess is really getting into drawing. She’s always had a love of painting (paper, rocks, shells, her one male baby doll Bubba) and she loves to craft things (though she still needs to learn that tape cannot stick everything together)…but the drawing is something different. She’s done it as long as any of her other art, but this is the medium which she has begun to pursue most diligently and with the greatest success.
I don’t know how to compare her artistic skills to other kids in the 7- to 8-year realm. I know many of her reading and writing skills (though not all) are already a year or two above her grade level, but drawing is trickier to gauge. But why compare against any standard anyway, right? She’s a damned goddess.
Anyway, the detail of her drawings, including the vampire cat people that I will have to share with you all one day, is amazing to me. One of the things she most seems to like drawing, though, is food (ironic, given how picky an eater she is). Given that I have a headache right now and have to do a phone meeting later, I’m going to pass on heavy thinking or attempts to be fantastically witty today and just skip to the cute:
But she’s not just a foodie illustrator. So here are a few more that aren’t food focused (though she still slips edibles in there, doesn’t she?) before I let you go back to your real life…
Six Degrees of…Utter Madness !!!!!
Remember the “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” game? You know, how many degrees of separation exist between any film celebrity you can name and Kevin Bacon (or some other actor via Kevin Bacon), who once jokingly claimed to have worked with everyone in Hollywood? Rarely could you get more than six people distant, and it probably works with any actor or other folks involved in films, I’d guess. For example:
Michelle Pfeiffer to Julia Ormond (via Kevin Bacon)
1. Pfeiffer to Jack Nicholson in “The Witches of Eastwick”
2. Nicholson to Kevin Bacon in “A Few Good Men”
3. Bacon to Brad Pitt in “Sleepers”
4. Pitt to Julia Ormond in “Legends of the Fall”
Linked in four degrees
If you have ever had a child with any level of serious curiosity about life and the kind of focus normally only seen in butterflies with ADHD (in other words, 90+% of kids) or spent plenty of time around a much younger relative, you will know that every topic has only a few degrees of separation from any other topic, no matter how illogical it might seem to leap from one to the other, and the speed with which the topic changes can be dizzying.
For example, Pisces to flying cars via my daughter.
In the car last week, my daughter asked about Pisces.
This led to a discussion of the Zodiac and astrology…
…which led to a discussion of adoption and child abandonment (“What if a child is adopted, Daddy? They wouldn’t know the birthday to know what animal sign the baby was”)
…which led to me barely avoiding the still-too-early in my opinion “birds-and-bees” discussion, dodged by me simply clarifying that a man and a woman are needed for a baby to be made, but only the mommy needs to be present for birth (“Daddy, how could a girl have a baby if the boy wasn’t there”)
…which led to discussion of early human-like hominids/proto-people/cavemen, with dashes of evolution tossed in plus speculation on how fire was “discovered.” (“Daddy, the whole deal with cavemen was that they spent their time looking for fire or trying to make it, right?”)
…which led to a discussion of extinction followed immediately by advanced genomics and possible future cloning technology (“So scientists could have a person’s hair maybe and make a person from that? Like in ‘Spongebob?’ Or create a polar bear, which are going to be extinct soon, right?”)
…leading to a discussion of hovercraft and the fact we could make flying cars, but why it would be a really bad idea if most people were allowed to operate such vehicles (“Daddy, won’t it be cool when we can have flying cars and floating schools?”)
So that’s what…six degrees of separation (more or less) between an astrological sign and advanced transportation technology?
In any case, while I’m glad to have filled my daughter’s head with a combination of useful knowledge, trivia and a number of things that she will immediately forget about and ask me to explain again soon, this meant some 60 minutes or more (while driving mostly) of nearly non-stop talking on my part. By the time we got home from the errand we ran, I was literally lightheaded.
Moral of the story: If you can’t handle a police interrogation or intense job interview, do not have a child.
Remembering the Bachelor Days
It’s been more than 17 years since my wife and I started dating; more than 15 since we tied the knot. And it’s days like today (“today” being March 13, though this won’t post until well after that) that make me think back to simpler times.
It’s not that I don’t want to be married. It’s not that I don’t love my wife. It’s not that I resent having kids to take care of. It’s not that I want my “freedom” back. It’s not that I dream of dating other women. It’s not that I want all the money I make to myself. It’s not that I want out. It’s not that I regret getting married. Or having kids. It’s not that I’d even change my decisions and go back in time to alter them (much) even if I could…
…it’s just that some days, like today—when I answered my child with honesty (on the way to driving her to school, while the wife was still at home gearing up for the day) about a question and in so doing made my wife feel left out, betrayed and cheated—I remember how much simpler it was when I mostly only had to think about myself.
When I was single and lived alone or with a roommate, I didn’t have to fret about meal times or other daily things and whether they interfered with someone else’s desires, needs or schedule. I didn’t need to worry most night about whether I snore or not. If I decided to go out, no sitters needed to be scheduled or spouse consulted. If I was in a bad mood, no one else had to be affected by it. And so on and so forth.
In getting married, a whole new wonderful world opened up, and I’m glad to be a husband (99% of the time). From the emotional to the sexual and the intellectual to the practical, I’ve gained much and offered much in return. I’m a better man for it.
But let me tell you, if you aren’t already married, it’s so much more complicated than you can ever prepare yourself for. Being partially responsible for another person and to be tied together with them in ways that affect every day and impact every part of your life can be a tricky and sometimes overwhelming thing.
But even that isn’t necessarily so hard.
Where it gets really hard, and matters to this blog and this post is when there are kids.
Again, I don’t regret or resent my family. I love my 21-year-old son and I love my 7-year-old daughter. I treasure them. But with every addition to the family, things get more complicated.
Like today’s failure, when I answered a question that seemed to need answering and couldn’t deflect it successfully and pissed off the wife when I got home and told her about it. Whether or not I was stupid and whether or not my wife was justified in her anger could be debated endlessly, because there is no right answer to either. But what it brought home to me was how damned complicated things get when you’re not only not single anymore…but you’re not just a couple anymore, either.
It has hit home to me now (in a way that wasn’t possible with my son, who spent most of his childhood in the home of his biological dad, my wife’s first husband) with my daughter that I am going to be faced with choices in which I will honor her or my wife and in so doing, piss off and disappoint the other in a terrible way that will also wound me deeply and make me feel like a complete failure. Or, better yet, I will try to honor one and actually end up letting both of them down.
The longer the years go on, and the more complicated things get and God help me when those hormones start kicking in at puberty…well, I am going to face more of these situations, I think. And they’ll get trickier. And the potential costs of a bad choice will get bigger. And my chances of not pissing off one (or both) of my ladies will get slimmer and slimmer.
Once upon a time, it was mostly me I had to worry about.
Then, happily ever after, I had someone to care about, care for and be cared by.
Now there’s more than just two of us, and that “happily ever after,” which was already more complicated than I ever expected, even being realistic about life, is “once upon a time” again. The problem is that after that intro to a fairy tale, something terrible almost always happens.
I only hope I’m strong enough to keep getting through these situations.
And adept enough to fix the wounds I inflict when I screw up.
St. Regret’s Day
So, my goddess-child started her St. Patrick’s Day pretty much like any other Sunday. Wake up too early (even though she’s got a bit of a cold), fire up the iPad and start watching streaming on Netflix (“Wizards of Waverly Place” was on tap this morning).
Regret was coming though.
My wife got up a bit on the late side because both she and I decided to ring in St. Patty’s Day in the wee hours of midnight to around 2-ish rather than mingle with drunken masses during the daylight and early evening hours today during the usual celebratory period.
Regret was still coming…though not really in the form of a hangover.
When my wife did get up, our little girl, who’d been pretty chipper and happy to do her thing in her room up to that point, whipped out the poopy-face and got the pouty lip and hung head and general vibe of sadness. Mostly fueled by…
…you guessed it! Regret had arrived.
When queried by her mom what was wrong, the small goddess announced that she was sad that the Leprechaun, who for the past few years had left small gifts and candy after eluding our Leprechaun traps, didn’t visit us this year. Which I would have felt bad about, if it weren’t for the fact she doesn’t believe in a St. Patrick’s Day gifting leprechaun anymore. (See the post here for more about the death of him and another magical creature.) Both my wife and I resisted the “I told you so” urge, which would have gone something like, “This is what you get when you keep asking so many questions about fun childhood things.”
Instead, we tried to be sympathetic while also not making a big deal about it.
Still, I felt a little bad for her.
Which is why this green bouquet currently decorates her room (since I had to go to the store to get fixings for making my wife a breakfast burrito today):
Goes well with the fuchsia jack o’ lantern trick-or-treating bucket and aluminum foil mermaid, don’t you think? We’ll see if they dry out later on nicely enough to stick around as a semi-permanent addition to her dresser-top.
What’s In a Name? Apparently, a Whole Lot
Naming our daughter was very important to me and my wife, and a process we took very seriously. Seriously enough to keep several publishers of baby name books in business, possibly. This wasn’t a situation in which we wanted to be short-sighted, indulgent, cute or anything else potentially disastrous.
We didn’t want our child to have a name that everyone else was handing out that year or in the previous few years. We didn’t want her to have a name that could be easily turned into a jibe or jest. We didn’t want her to have a name she’d hate in later life (granted, you can’t predict that, so we gave her two very “normal” middle names if she wanted to use one of them later). We didn’t want her name to be something too overtly exotic, culturally inappropriate or…worse yet…made up from our own fertile imaginations. Also, we didn’t want to name her after our favorite drinks, common objects in nature or any U.S. states or foreign nations.
I’m sure we had other rules, too.
In the end, we went round and round and round with unwieldy lists and little agreement between the two of us on the best ones, though we certainly agreed plenty on the ones to reject.
The first name she got was right after the first ultrasound during my wife’s pregnancy. We nicknamed her “Peanut.” Of course, 90% of parents who see the first ultrasound probably name their unborn kids Peanut. Shortly thereafter, I decided to honor my vocation of writing and editing and nicknamed her “Comma.” Frankly, she was shaped more like a comma than a peanut anyway.
And certainly, since the time she received her actual legal given name…the name of a powerful goddess…she’s received plenty of others, a few choice ones among them being Honey Bunches of Love (or Honeybunch), Sweetie Petite-y, Sweet Petunia Pickle Bottom Butt, Oogah-Boogah, Icy, Goofalooficus and Silly-Butt.
But *THE* name; that was the challenge.
It was so important to us to get it right that we didn’t name her right away. We left the hospital with our daughter simply being Baby Girl Bouley and we didn’t commit to naming her until several days after she came home with us.
You see, by that time, we did finally have a short list of names: Zoe, Soledad and the goddess-name-I-don’t-know-if-I-will-publicly-reveal-any-time-soon. We figured that we’d be able to get a sense of our daughter, even in those early days when the only two notable things she could do were nurse and poop out that gross, gluey, black crap-like substance.
We were right to do so, because it was clear from very early on that Soledad would not suit her. Despite being the name of a highly respected television journalist, Soledad O’Brien, the name also means “solitude.” Our daughter was clearly not one to be left alone for any length of time, or be ignored for even a moment.
Scratch one name off the list.
Still, we wrestled for a bit longer between the last two. Ultimately, though, it was clear our daughter was going to try to boss us around, even before she could speak. It also seemed clear she would be a strong personality. And so the goddess name won out, for those and other reasons.
Did we name her true…or have we created a potential “monster” by giving her a name weighted with such power and authority, investing her with more bossiness than she would have naturally possessed?
I don’t know.
But it seems clear to me it’s the right name for her, so I guess we did good. Day by day, the inner goddess comes forth, and all her mom and I have to do is try to ensure she remains mostly benevolent.
Reluctant to Work at Success
The petite goddess rules over our home (or tries to, anyway…both the wife and I come from stubborn blue/pink collar stock), but for all her divine majesty, she doesn’t like to rule over her success. Or, rather, she doesn’t want to work at it too hard. There are things she has thrown herself into as of late, such as her drawing, which is marvel to watch develop, but often she doesn’t like to work at things she cannot master pretty much right away, like the whole shoe-tying thing.
This is just one of many reasons we don’t home-school her, at least not yet. Needing the basics of math and language to be firmly planted, we have made sure she gets it in a structured environment with (theoretically) well-trained overseers…I mean, er…teachers. With her level of stubbornness when confronted with obstacles, combined with my stubbornness that you need to keep trying…well, someone would have been carried out of here horizontally by now (me, as a result of an aneurism) and someone else would end up unable to read, write or calculate (her).
The wife and I are great at fine-tuning things that she gets from school, skill-wise, so that she ends up above her grade level (in terms of verbal/language skills, at least, and context when it comes to history stuff) but we’d make crappy teachers of fundamental concepts and elementary skills.
When the little goddess is faced with the failure to master something within minutes, this is how things have traditionally gone:
Oooooooh! I can’t do it!
Yes, you can. You’ve made a good start. Just try…
I can’t! I can’t do it!
This is too hard! I’ll never get it!
Let me show…
I’ll NEVER BE ABLE TO DO IT!
Hey, I did it! (Sometimes happens same-day, but really, probably days or weeks later)
See? I told you that if you just practiced and calmed down and had some patience you’d…
I’m an expert at this!
For the record, found the image here.
Also for the record, in searching for “girl at work” images, I found (more or less safe for work, I think) this image: Bring Your Slave Gladiator Girl to Work Day
I’m Queen! Or Princess! Anyway, I’m the Boss of You
Me: Sweetie, did you wash your entire body?
Me: That just seemed like an awfully quick bath.
Daughter: (exaggerated indignation) Are you calling me a liar?!
Me: Let’s just say I’m questioning your attention to detail.
Daughter: (imperious tone) How DARE you!
Me: I dare to do a lot of things. I’m the daddy.
Daughter: You do not command ME!
Me: That’s a matter of opinion.
Daughter: I am a queen and I command YOU.
Me: You are not the queen around here.
Daughter: You’re right; I’m the princess, and I still rule over you.
(Laughter from wife in the other room)
Me: I think not.
Daughter: You have offended me and I sentence you to 10 years detention in my dungeon, where you will do very hard math problems and if you can’t solve them you will have to do drawings that are very, very nice or you will be in the dungeon for TWENTY YEARS!
Me: Good luck with that. You have no minions. All you have are stuffed animals, action figures and dolls and I can take them.