Wednesday, March 31, 2010

It Takes a Cape

While going through the lost and found at work the other day, I came across a child's Superman cape. Rather than think about the poor kid who had lost such a marvel and the pain his constant whining must surely be causing his own parents, I thought instead of a certain little boy at home who would look very cute in a slightly used red cape. So I threw it into the truck and took it home.

Now, we have never as a family watched any Superman movies. Or Batman. Not even Daredevil. To my knowledge, we have never mentioned any superhero of any kind. We have seen The Incredibles, but it has been months ago. The closest we get to superheroes in this house is Superwhy on PBS. But the second I fastened the red velcro around Jack's neck, he was transformed.

"Superhero to the rescue!" cried Jack. "Faster than a train!" As he set about the house running and jumping off of furniture, I sat in awe. How does he know this stuff? Where does he get it? Is it the innate knowledge of little boys everywhere, lying dormant until the moment they strap some flowing fabric around their necks? He couldn't even see it back there, flapping in his wake, but that was no matter to the newly formed SuperJack.

Not to be outdone, of course, Ella quickly retrieved her Tinkerbelle apron and donned it backward (sans apron strings) in her own attempt at superherodom. The two took turns jumping off the furniture and into the lap of their grandmother Nana, who in turn directed them in some sort of Simon Says fashion to perform various tasks. "Superheroes... lie down!" And they would. "Superheroes... run in circles!" And they did. This went on until we pulled out their own personal kryptonite: story-time. They whined and moaned and melted into toddler tears for a matter of seconds until they were engrossed in the tale of Liza Lou and the Yeller Belly Swamp. Then came the brushing of teeth, and the going off to bed. And as the noise from their room started to slowly subside, I couldn't help but think... where can I get one of those Superman capes in my size?

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Father-Daughter Bond

There are certain mornings when I get out of the shower that I can tell things just aren't quite right south of the belt-line. Sometimes my dangly parts have an unusual amount of friction, or perhaps a tackiness that time has taught me will lead to chaffing in a matter of hours. My job requires me to be on my feet for hours on end, roaming the dining room and observing the staff and the patrons to ensure things are running smoothly. This is hard to do with sandpaper between your legs, and so in a preemptive strike, I reach for my tried and trusted friend... Gold Bond Medicated Powder.

I keep it safe from toddlers high above my toilet on a window sill. I usually apply it while sitting on the aforementioned toilet so that the residue can be neatly flushed away, instead of falling into the carpet for all eternity. If you have never used Gold Bond, I urge you to do so. It's a sensation unlike any other... like stuffing a York Peppermint Patty where the sun don't shine, like a fresh arctic breeze cooling your nether regions. Refreshing, indeed.

So the other day after taking down the Christmas lights from the roof, I was struck with the urge to go potty. As is often the case in my house, I was not left alone to enjoy a moment of solitude, no. I was accompanied by a red-headed, inquisitive little girl who wanted to know just what I was doing. So I told her. "I'm pooping in the potty like a big boy." "Oh. OK." Then she ran off. Peace at last, I was left alone to finish my paperwork. Merely seconds later, she reappeared presenting me with the familiar yellow bottle with the red cap containing the powder of the Gods. "Here, daddy," she said, smiling and batting those big brown eyes at me. She knows me well, I thought, and I love her even more than I could ever imagine for that.

Laissez Faire

Jack has developed a laissez faire approach to urination. Hands off, baby. He's not touching a thing down there. I don't know if he's just focusing on keeping his shirt dry, or if he's going for style points. Either way, it's fun to watch.

Now, this may come as a surprise to you, but potty training is not something I particularly enjoy. In fact, I wouldn't do it at all if I didn't fear the wrath of my lovely and charming wife. But, I do my part, and she remains lovely and charming, and we're both happy. I will admit that it's a little easier for me with Jack than it was with Ella. Not only do we have the same plumbing, but there's a little sport involved when standing as opposed to sitting. Calculations must be made. Aim must be taken. Thrust and velocity are factors that must be considered when choosing the correct trajectory.

Most of us who use our hands are capable of making minute adjustments rather quickly and with little effort in order to hit the target. But Jack... he aims with the big muscles. The back, the legs, the whole torso. He is fluid, and in constant motion. A whirligig of pivoting hips, pelvic thrusts, arching back, and bended knees. He looks like a cross between Mick Jagger performing "Jumping Jack Flash" and Neo from "The Matrix" dodging bullets in real time. His lips are taught, his brow furrowed, his concentration strong. He is limber and balanced and proud.

And I am proud, too. Go your own way, I say. March to a different beat. Prior to the Great Depression, laissez faire always worked. Jack's just kicking it old school, like before the New Deal, and I'm cool with that. Cool.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Dinner Conversation

Dinner is always an interesting time for the family to get together and discuss what's on their minds. Parents gloss over the details of their workdays and children ask questions about things they're too young to know about; all while passing the gravy and stuffing the gullet. Well, at least I think this is how it goes at most houses throughout the country, however, our house doesn't quite work that way.

Just the other night, for example, I had made a big pot of Red Beans and Rice. I had Cajun fever, and I thought this would do the trick. Now, sure I knew the kids wouldn't eat any of this, and the truth is that I didn't really have a plan for them. Incidentally, I was also practicing some chicken thighs for my first BBQ competition coming up in April, and they came off the smoker about the same time as dinner. My plan was for the wife and I to have a few bites of the thighs (done in two different marinades) before we sat down to eat to see which ones we liked better.

Well, I hadn't communicated this to her, and before I knew it, a couple of chicken thighs were cut up and placed in front of my children for dinner. I should tell you that Jack does not tolerate spicy food, and because BBQ judges like their chicken sweet and hot, there was a healthy dose of cayenne pepper in both marinades. And despite Ella's repeated claims that she likes BBQ, she hasn't developed a taste for it, either.

So after about two bites, Ella declares that she is "all done", and Jack is dripping slobber like a leaky faucet and trying to wipe his tongue with his shirt. The wife is yelling for everyone to remain in their seats and eat their cornbread, and I'm trying to get Jack to drink some milk, and then the wife is wondering why I cooked this food that nobody could eat, and I am wondering why she doesn't understand my BBQ obsession, and the kids are crying as I scramble to cook them a hot dog on the fly.

Everyone settles down and there is a palpable tension in the air. Silence permeates the room. But, at least, we're all eating. One big unhappy family. And then Ella, rubbing her hands on her chest in little circles, utters one tiny word. "Boobs." Did she just say that? Again..."Boobs." "Ella's got two boobs." And Jack, oblivious with a mouthful of hot dog, says "What are you talking about, Ella?" And there we were, normal again, one big happy family, laughing and trying not to spit food on one another.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Letter to Santa

The kids were restless this morning, and it was too cold to go outside yet (or I hadn't had enough coffee, or something) so we decided to write our first letters to Santa. So what if some of the ideas weren't entirely theirs. I assure you they gave me approval before I wrote anything down. Then we broke out the stickers and I let them have at it. I did have to insist that they not cover up any of the text.

Reader's note: Melvin is the name of our Elf On The Shelf. He watches over the twins to see if they're naughty or nice during the day, then he flies to the North Pole at night to report to Santa. When he flies back (using elfin magic) he finds a new place to perch, and the twins have to find him in the morning when they awaken.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


The most endearing quality of all children is innocence. In fact, it is the precise reason that they are at all tolerable. We don't mind when they vomit on us, or draw on the walls, or poop on the carpet because they just don't know any better. But innocence is fleeting. Soon they grow up, and when they learn to understand the rules, they figure out how to bend, break, or otherwise manipulate them.

Yesterday, Ella was sick and could not go to day school. She was absolutely pitiful, until I allowed her to play "Elmo Alphabet" on the computer. I couldn't help but marvel at how well this not quite three year old could use a mouse. Her computer skills are quite sharp at such an early age. It was really fun to watch.

After a couple of hours, however, I decided she had spent enough time in front of the monitor. So I offered to read to her. "Ella?" I called out. "What baby?" she replied. "Let's read a book." Then it happened. She lied. "No. I don't like it," she said flatly. This is patently untrue. It's as if the Pope claimed to be Methodist. Nobody would believe him. Anyway, I let her stay on the computer, mostly because her will is much stronger than mine.

Another hour passed and I declared it lunchtime. I asked Ella if she would like a grilled cheese sandwich. "No. I don't like it." I offered chips. "I don't like it." Then strawberries. "I don't like it." These are perhaps some of the biggest whoppers ever told, and I had a hard time swallowing them. I forcefully removed her from the computer and we ate lunch. Funny, but she ate all of the things that she didn't like. And then we read books which she didn't seem to mind, either. Perhaps its time to introduce the little fibber to the story of Pinocchio.


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Welcome to the Dollhouse

So the wife and kids had a playdate a couple of weeks ago. They went over to some friend's house for a few hours to run around and get into trouble while the grown ups discussed grown up things and did their best to ignore the little ones. Apparently these people had every toy known to man and a few others to boot. At home, the twins can make a whole afternoon out of jumping into a pile of laundry, so you can imagine their excitement.

Anyway, Ella found a dollhouse and spent most of her time playing with that. She did strap on a guitar and put on a show for a little bit, but mostly, it was the dollhouse for her. Jack never spent more than three full minutes with any one toy, kind of like a man with a remote control can't stop switching channels.

Although Jack is still in pull-ups, Ella has graduated to big girl underwear. And just when we thought she'd really gotten the hang of it all, she started to have several accidents, especially if she was doing something particularly fun and didn't want to tear herself away to go potty. So, she's playing with the dollhouse and the wife asks, "Ella? Do you need to use the potty?" Of course, Ella shakes her head no and continues playing with the dollhouse. Just a few moments later the wife sees Ella out of the corner of her eye, pants down and squatting in the middle of the living room floor. "Ella, noooooooooooo...." screams the wife as she lunges toward the child, afraid and embarrassed that Ella would just pee in the middle of the room. But then she realizes that there is something in the floor; something small that Ella seems to be hovering over. And there between her legs, she sees that Ella has placed the tiny little dollhouse potty. This was no accident. She was just challenging her aim.