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.