31 January 2008

Songs from the bunk beds

As I popped into my son's room to put some clothes away the other day, he was laying in his bed out of view, casually singing his own version of Old MacDonald's Farm.
(If you can't pick up the rhythm from these lyrics, don't feel bad, because there was none.)

"Old MacDonald had a farm... and on that farm he had a cow, named Crap-pee-oooo...

This was not said with the intent you might think-- just a random set of syllables he threw out there, hence I let it pass without comment.

And then, a few random lines later:

"Old MacDonald knew how to maaake a baaaaaybeeee cowww"

I'd figure that kind of knowledge has to be pretty fundamental to run a successful farm for very long, but never having run one myself, I can't say so with certainty.

I was waiting for the follow-up question that would usually come when he accidentally says something like this, but thankfully he couldn't stop freestyling long enough to ponder it.

29 January 2008

A character study

To illustrate the kind of boyo I've got, and to offer up one of the unexpected perks of parenting, I offer this:

M-, D-, and I walked a few blocks this evening in blistering wind laced with hateful little snowflakes to get a few necessities at the store. Whilst picking through the milks to find the youngest one, apropos of nothing, D- walked over to me, kissed me on the cheek, and said "Love ya, Daddy."

He didn't ask for candy or toys or anything.

That was it.

28 January 2008

Playing dumb: A conversation with D-

This is the first in our high-minded series of conversations with D-, my three-year-old son.

I'm not new to this strategy, but let's see if you can pick it up:

As we entered a store today, D- saw some random toy displays, and innocently asked "Why do they have all these toys out here?"

Can you see where he's headed with this soft sell?

Me: "They're out for people who want to buy them."

D-: "I want to buy them..."

Me: "I don't think you have enough money to buy them."

D-: "But you have enough money to buy them..."

Me: "Yes, but I don't want to buy them."

D-: "But I want them..."

Me: "Even I don't have enough money to buy all the things you say you want. If I bought all the things you point out and say you want, we wouldn't have any money left over for food or other things we actually need."

D-: "Oh, okay."

And so it ended as simply as it began. He didn't even call my attention to any specific toy, just the whole brightly-colored area right as you walk in (clever bastards).

I think he may have a toy addiction. I wonder what the methadone would be for toy addicts... "educational" toys? Just like the real thing, only lamer.

26 January 2008

Hippo with a hammer in hand

Only as a parent do you have to be on the lookout for hooligans cruising by on a hippo, squeaky hammer in hand, looking for victims innocently relaxing on the floor.

M-'s new chauffeur silently pushed her up alongside J-, whose eyes were closed at the time, and M- began lining up a hammer strike on J-'s temple. Where the kid learned this, I don't know, but had I not been able to grab the hammer in time, I don't think J- would have believed the Helpless Muscle Spasm defense M-'s little baby face has sold us so many times in the past.

Don't let the squeakiness fool you-- that is one solid hammer. And don't let the baby fat (and tiny little toes!!) fool you-- that kid's arm is hard as a coffin nail.

Now that these two are allied, J- and I will quickly be outmatched. Because you see, only children can get away with acting like children, as I've sadly discovered, and I know they will soon begin using this to their advantage.

25 January 2008

Now that's home cooking

This morning, I thought that M- had created something unholy in her diaper, as she is wont to do. It was something I hadn't smelled before, though, so I was confused, since we hadn't fed her anything unusual the previous day. And the random things she eats off the floor (we're not the best housekeepers) don't usually add up to enough to affect herrrrrrrrr... output. By the way, yes, we do try to stop her from eating off the floor. Except of course when I've put pieces of cereal on the floor in a trail leading her wherever it is I need her to go.

But I digress...

Anyway, upon further review, the smell did not seem to be emanating from the baby's direction. Rather, it seemed to be emanating from the walls, floors, appliances, and my eye sockets.

I had faint, unbidden recollections of the dog food factory we used to live near, which I do understand does not sound all that unpleasant to anyone who has never lived near a dog food factory. Just trust me on this one when I tell you I was quickly looking to find the source of the smell and smother the life out of it.

It slowly dawned on me that it really was seeping through the floor and walls, and pouring in from under the front door, as our downstairs neighbors were "cooking" again. Generally, we are treated to (literally) stomach-turning waves of powerful East Asian spices, which is at least understandable compared to this smell, though in the past the smells have been so powerful we have literally been driven out of our home for an evening or longer. In answer to the inevitable "what on Earth are they cooking?" question, we have received such items as Styrofoam coolers labeled "Frozen Whole Cooked Octopus" amongst their voluminous garbage piled on our shared porch, as well as right next to our THREE ENORMOUS GARBAGE CANS. Sorry about that... sounds like this might be a few separate posts.

Anyway, this smelled nothing like food, and I cannot imagine what it was. But the weirdest part was that this was the morning, so either it was a very elaborate breakfast/brunch (no waffles and cereal for them!), or just the awful-est phase of an even more intricate dinner, because the smell faded by mid-afternoon. The world will never know what it was, of course, because we almost never even see our neighbors, much less speak with them. On a side note, all interactions we have had with the one representative we do see have been appropriately polite and friendly thus far.

Screamingly loud, predictably off-key karaoke sessions at all hours don't count as "interactions", right?

23 January 2008

Eyes on the prize

I have reason to believe that my daughter, M-, may be desperately trying to eat her way to a forward-facing carseat.

She is an extremely willful child, but I'm happy to say she seems to be learning that tiny balled fists being what they may, she can't scream her way to getting what she wants. So now she eats.

The backstory: In the chaos and confusion of trying to install two carseats in my parents' car on our way to the airport a few weeks before M-'s first birthday, I accidentally installed her carseat facing forwards instead of backwards, as recommended before age 1 and/or 20 pounds. This didn't strike me until we started driving, but given that we didn't want to risk missing our plane and that she looked pretty safe in the seat (not like a 16-inch softball on a sack of sugar with a Jell-o neck, like during the first few months), I let her be.

I cannot do justice to the looks of wonder and unexplained giggles that frequently radiated from that seat during the magical 20-minute ride, so I won't even try.

Since we got back from our trip, she has resisted being set into her usual backward-facing seat by any means available to her, including crying and stiffening her body while arching her back. Whenever she gets a glimpse (usually upside down) of the front seat, she shouts with glee, attempting to address anyone she sees up there.

After several trips starting like this when we got back, she began eating voraciously, essentially not ceasing all day to cram anything she could find into her cry-hole. This is because shortly after we got back, she turned one, but since she was sick for over a week around that time, she is still shy of the required 20 pounds. (We plan to make her wait till she's safely over that level, but don't tell her that.)

She has been plowing through her remaining baby formula, downing jars of food, shoveling in baby cereal, and even licking her hand and dunking it into piles of grownup cereal, for more efficient stuffing of said cry-hole. It's all I can do to get in a couple hours of videogames a day.

I've just got to get her feeding herself more reliably and less messily, so I can set up the baby gate in the kitchen and leave her there with the pantry door open for a little while each day, so D- and I can read and relax..... and play more Super Paper Mario.

21 January 2008

A political experiment

Here is an experiment:
Ron Paul.

I'm not sure how many people will get this, but let's see if I get some comment spam now from misguided Ron Paul supporters.

Footnote: To clarify, I say "misguided" meaning people misguided in their method of supporting him, not that they are misguided to support him at all. I think he has a fresh voice and a straightforward manner that is very welcome in our American politics. I love the fact that I respect this guy without agreeing with much more than half of what he says, either in concept entirely or just the extent to which he wants to change certain things.

Anyway, the experiment failed, since I don't yet exist in most search engines, among other factors. Wonh-wohhhhhh....

19 January 2008

Deepest, darkest secrets

My son called to me from the kitchen the other day, saying he wanted to tell me a secret "in [my] ear". This in itself is a big step forward, as most of his secrets and other private thoughts have thus far been expressed at the highest volume possible in everyone's ears who happened to be wandering through the county at the time.

He couldn't wait two minutes, so he ran out to me, tried to lean over to my ear and said "I can..." then, unsatisfied with his proximity to my ear, leaped up and held himself up impressively on the arm of my chair, to whisper almost inaudibly, "I can jump up and down... I can jump up and down."

He said this twice, like many other things he says, for no apparent reason. "Outside," he added as an important footnote, so as not to incur yet another of my cruel, vicious lectures about what we do inside and what we do outside. (Of course, everything truly fun is supposed to take place outside, a magical place we never, ever visit.)

Anyway, he somehow decided this ability really was a secret, forgetting that he debuted it long ago, and that he had displayed it as recently as that afternoon. He actually had the tone of someone saying (picture Haley Joel Osment in The Sixth Sense), "I can make things happen with my mind."

So now we know that, some night when a burglar is holding us at gunpoint, D- can just begin jumping up and down, baffling this intruder with his stunning superhuman ability, while I debut my less-impressive secret power of skipping from side to side, and J- suddenly begins miraculously cartwheeling around all of us. I imagine one of us would just have to carry the baby out of the room, because even if her power was ready to manifest itself, she'd still demand to be carried (imagine a big toothless baby smile here).

17 January 2008

10 reasons my 3-year-old son may NOT be homosexual

Keeping in mind that of course all of these items are based on blind stereotyping, for your reading pleasure, here are 10 reasons my 3-year-old son is probably not homosexual [to counter my post of 10 reasons he might be]:

1. He can also be kind of a self-absorbed jerk sometimes. Makes me proud.

2. He has been making engine-revving sounds and other somewhat aggressive noises since long before he could talk.

3. He's not THAT good a dancer. He dances about exactly as well as I do now, and in rethinking this one, I don't see any reason why he'll get much better without further instruction. (Again, the Dance Class Fiasco will be a later post.)

4. This summer, he got to operate a heavy-duty truck-mounted crane with the assistance of the required union co-operator (shouldn't all kids aspire to become co-operators?), and it has been the highlight of his life up to this point.

5. His love of purses is understandable, given that they are just so handy. Cheers to him for having the guts to pull it off. That being said, I've tried to teach him to call each one a "European men's leather carryall" no matter what material that day's purse is made of.

6. As a baby, he pooped on me in the bath on two separate occasions, as well as once in the shower. This seems a distinctly hilarious prank to a typical straight male. Not knowing many gay men, though (at least not well enough to ask about this), I can't verify whether they would also find this funny. Also, my daughter has now done this to me at least seven times.

7. His personal hygiene can be appropriately suspect for his age, and with his mother around for an alternative role model, his neatness is unlikely to reach frightening levels.

8. He seems to treat the care of the dolls he plays with to be somewhat of a chore, while rocking them to sleep, changing their diapers, etc., and when he's done, those babies suffer some horrible injuries, neglect, and death. Ahhhh, boyhood.

9. In addition to some girly movie and book choices, he overwhelmingly prefers the movie "Cars", books about vehicles or machinery, and anything involving Spider-Man. And in case you think that's just because I push them, I can tell you that I was bored by "Cars" the first time I saw it, and on movie days, I offer to watch any of the other Pixar movies before that one. Also, most of the books about machines are a bit light on plot, so unless we're in a hurry at bedtime or Daddy wants to read a story without really paying attention, I'd sooner suggest some kind of storybook. Spider-Man's all my fault, however.

10. He seems to consider girls another species of human. Seems counterintuitive in this list, but we all know how kids are. Then again, since we all know how women are, the kid may not really be wrong. An example to illustrate his mindset: once when we were at a store, he saw an aisle of dolls and such in pink boxes (a.k.a The Wall of Pink) and asked "Why them have girl toys?" While I was trying to think of some wise, PC response about equality of opportunity (hey, I let the kid play with dolls, don't I?), he saw the rest of the toys and said, very satisfied, "Oh, them have kid toys, too." I've tried to explain that "kids" covers both girls and boys, but he has made this mistake several times before and since, so I don't think he has really been listening.

Anyway, after much consideration, I now feel pretty safe that my "birds and bees" talk will be as straightforward as most other people's, though given that he seems to have inherited my inquisitiveness and persistence, it may be quite drawn out and excruciating yet.

16 January 2008

10 reasons my 3-year-old son may be homosexual

Like most fathers (says I), I have been forced now and then to consider whether my son may turn out to be homosexual. I figure I may as well brace myself for the revelation, should it ever come. Not that there's anything wrong with it, of course. I just don't want to have to have that kind of talk with him when he gets to a certain age.

For your amusement, here are 10 reasons why my 3-year-old son may be a homosexual [see 10 reasons he may not be]:

1. He is unusually empathetic.

2. When he was 1, he had a months-long obsession with a horrendously girly romance novel my wife left laying around. He would sit somewhere and read it (right side up or otherwise) frequently during the day and keep it next to his pillow when sleeping.

3. He's a pretty good dancer, at least for a three-year-old. The Dance Class Fiasco will be another post.

4. Probably based solely on the relative intensity and vocalization regarding my wife's versus my favorite colors, he has for a long time selected pink as his favorite color.

5. He really likes purses. A lot.

6. He spent a few days recently declaring he was "an evil queen", defying my pointed questions as to whether or not he was actually an evil king.

7. He's extremely neat for a three-year-old.

8. All signs have thus far pointed to his being very into dolls. Before you ask, yes, he was into dolls even before his sister came around.

9. He has always greatly enjoyed the story of Cinderella. He originally asked to be read it based on the cover, and the fact that it was A Book, but then he began asking for it by name, and we had to read it (with the required Sense of Timeless Wonder voice) many, many times. I thought it might become his Next Big Thing, until shuffling it towards the back of his hundreds of books broke the cycle of obsession. This year, though, he noticed that J- has the movie on DVD, and he actually sat quietly through the whole movie. Hmmm.

10. My wife has helped me appreciate way too many chick flicks for me to be an entirely pure role model. As it is, my very broad musical tastes incorporate quite a few embarrassingly sappy and girly songs along with the classic rock, hard-core rap, and everything else I've been known to listen to and even sing along with. Of course, I try my best to make catching me doing this be as easy as mugging a leprechaun.

I may just have to settle for metrosexuality.

12 January 2008

The cast of characters

Me: As the nickname indicates, I can be overly precise and dogmatic, but in the interests of full disclosure, this is generally just an effort to amuse myself. I'm in my 20s, and my English degree, coupled with my Herculean drive to deftly conquer every mountain life sets in my way, has of course brought me wealth and fame beyond your wildest dreams.

I say 'your' dreams because I, of course, don't dream. If something begins to occur to me while I sleep, I simply wake up and make another million off it before retiring again to rest in the blackened, dreamless sleep of someone who once again has nothing left to achieve in this world.

I've made and lost just some of my fortunes thus far while working in the high-stakes fields of technical writering, movie-theater-supervisoring, and temporary employmenting. I recently moved into the profession of making those privileged Caucasian-American babies everyone loves so much these days ("this millennium's Beanie Babies!!!"), and I am merely waiting for that investment to mature in spades.

J-: My long-suffering wife and a sainted special education teacher. She has put up with my shenanigans for over 10 years so far (I tricked her into marrying me less than halfway through, before she could realize what she was getting into). When asked how long she plans to continue, she makes that face she makes. You know the one.

D-: My 6-year-old son, who (as an impartial observer) is abnormally intelligent and insightful for his age, which mostly just brings him trouble. Also, we have a very similar sense of humor, which says a lot about both of us, I think. You'll hear enough about him and his sister later that I don't need to go on at length here.

M-: My 3-year-old daughter, who may or may not be part Eskimo, as she spent most of her free time during her first year assigning 70 different meanings to a blood-curdling scream. She has since settled down and began blowing us all away by walking, toilet-ing, and talking like a 5-year-old before age 2. Except when she really wants something she can't have, she is professionally adorable and pleasant.

My Parents: The nicest parents in the world. Seriously. If you think your parents are nice, you may in fact be wrong. J- and I end up spending a lot of time over at their house (my parents' house, that is, not your parents'), like "Everybody Loves Raymond" in reverse.

My Sister: A fun and loving aunt (pronounced "ant"). Just don't call her Aunt, cause that might suggest she's older than her 20s. She's a vegetarian, and generally very Healthy and Active, which can only be a good counterweighting influence on the kids.

I'm sure others will appear, but these are likely to be the most frequently mentioned people.

11 January 2008

What to expect

Here it is, the first post of this blog. What you have to look forward to are whatever insights I can stumble upon in regards to my being:

  • a father of two in my mid-20s

  • a husband and stay-at-home dad

  • an astoundingly unproductive freelance writer

  • an underachiever

  • a lazy obsessive-compulsive

  • a bullsh***er extraordinaire
In addition to that, I'll write about whatever else strikes my fancy.

...isn't that just a quaint little phrase?