Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Present

I have had to ask myself, over the past few days--Who is this docile (Spitfire) child that has invaded our home? And where is the real one—the one that keeps a terrible, rumbling roar close at hand so that its use can be swift and sharp and biting? I don’t have any really good answers, except that maybe, it’s the effect of The Present. The present phenomenon reminds me of the commercials that were airing around Christmas time—the ones that depicted a little boy playing Atari exclaiming about the best present ever, and then cutting to the boy, all grown up, doe eyed over a brand new car. I definitely remember my own Present—a baby doll that sprayed pretend tinkle after you fed her a bottle of water. My first day with said baby—Christmas day--I nurtured her single-mindedly, without regard to interested adults milling around our family gathering or cousins my age who tried enticing me outside to play or upstairs for a rousing game of pool. This is the same way that Spitfire behaves with her new fluffy cat that purrs, speaks, growls, and “snores” just like a real cat, and given a breadth of a second, she will artfully describe all of Valentine’s many attributes and functions in the form of a never-ending soliloquy, as she did to the few bored spectators at ice skating lessons last night. Such is her loyalty and infatuation, that I hear only one rancid, werewolf snarl when Destructo invades her territory and spreads yogurt covered hands across Valentine’s revered fur. Now, Destructo well understands the importance of this newly minted member of our family, touching him with light hands, respectfully, while keeping a wary, watching eye on Spitfire. He has decided that interfering with such a solid relationship between toy animal and docile child is not in his best interest, and instead, performs his best downward facing dog in the middle of the living room floor. He goes one step further than most yoga aficionados, and pushes forward, sliding his head against the carpet and moving around the room in that position, stopping only when he wobbles and falls over, then cackling loudly at his, apparently, hugely entertaining trick. Dart guy shakes his head at this. He’d rather see Destructo zig zagging around the room with a football, leaving pretend attackers scattered around on the ground in confusion. I try and reassure him. Maybe that will be next week.

Thanks to all the Edelweiss attendees! Birthday night for Dart guy was outstanding. I love you all for being great friends to dart guy and his family, for gamely performing the chicken dance with him, and for being warm and funny with the two youngest members of the “Happy” group. Thanks especially to Grandma Happy, for being the kind of Grandmother who allows daunting annihilation of all things not firmly attached or anchored down in her home. We love you.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Happy Birthday Dart Guy!

Warning: The following blog entry may contain sentamental comments

Dear Dart Guy,

Only a real man can be a stay-at-home dad. Even though you've got a lot of other irons in the fire, like dejaying (http://www.happytunespro.com/), the dart association (http://www.txdarts.com/), and being a fantasy football commissioner and guru, the truly, hard work you experience is Mon through Fri without ever leaving the house. Your family thanks you, on this day that your were born, only 19 years ago (hee hee), for sticking with us through an assortman of lovingly inflicted abuse. For you, our Man of the House, each day is a test of patience, fortitude, latitude, and attitude, and you weather it like a marine in heavy combat, taking it on the chin with a nochalant smile, and then leeringly suggesting that perhaps another child could add to the fun. Thank you especially, for putting up with the over heated bathroom after I shower ("a camel would suffocate in here!"), suffering through whatever organic, plastic free, environmentaly friendly, and heart healthy trend I am pursuing at the moment ("don't buy any more of that #%@$ John Wayne eco-friendly bathroom paper!), and being able to work around multiple different bodily excretions our children throw at you. I know that Brad Pitt says he can deal with anything from a child, whether it is vomit, poo, or a virulantly bleeding scrape, but let's face it: he's got a few more hired hands around than you do. When it's all said and done, it's just you, Spitfire, and Destructo on the front lines in the battle field, and I have to say--I wouldn't want it any other way.

I hope you enjoy the dinner with friends and family. And, of course, the Dart playing afterwards. We love you Dart Guy!!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Worry Free

Four o'clock is the witching hour at my house. Spitfire, in a long, lived, time, honored tradition, turns into Mr. Hyde on many days between 4 and 6, and there is no clear reason for it that we know of--it just is. Destructo is heartily trying to follow in her revered footsteps, and doing a fine job of it. I arrive home after work yesterday—Inauguration Day—to find these paranormal creatures in their finest hour. Destructo is wailing about the injustice of sitting in “time-out” from a remote corner of the house, and Spitfire is competing with him for a win in the volume category from her bedroom. Dart guy is looking grim. Passionate, obstinate, verbally demonstrative Dart Guy is silent and wearing a permanent scowl, and I know this is not only because the werewolves are at large in our humble abode, but also because his ticket didn’t get sworn in at Washington. Though I do not feel quite the same way, I am proud of Dart guy—that he is the type of person who really cares about what direction things are going in the world.
I plunge into the middle of this environment doggedly, trying not to join the glowering, shrieking masses by focusing on my nice Frappuccino buzz (from a secret stop at Starbucks after work). After coffee, I can do anything, right? Dart guy has dinner going—what a wonderful man. He has made fantastically, decadent mashed potatoes from scratch, and has even included the skins. Hmmmm. Although I can feel the pounds attaching to my hips, I can’t wait to have some. We finally get everyone to the dinner table. Spitfire prays. She thanks God for the food and for allowing Destructo to say “Go Illini!” (University of Illinois cheer) in an especially funny way. The kids eat like we have never fed them before, with Destructo downing the turkey I meticulously cut into perfect bite sized pieces in two swallows. I sometimes worry that these two will grow up to be frightfully obese telemarketers who go home and eat steaks whole along with a heaping mound of fantastically, decadent mashed potatoes. But I also worry when they don’t eat very well, which leads Dart Guy to remark that worrying is my one true calling. I disagree, but just in case he has a point, I have decided to worry less as one of my New Year’s Resolutions.

Happy Inauguration Day everybody, a day late. One good man left office, and hopefully, one good man begins in office. Beyond that, I’m not going to worry about it. (at least not very much, anyway)

Monday, January 19, 2009

Spitfire and Skating

I take Spitfire to ice skating lessons after work even though we are all famished. It is only 5 o'clock, but we are behaving as though we have hiked the Grand Canyon today. I stand possessively cradling a bag of potato chips near the kitchen sink, gobbling like a refugee and glancing at the clock. Spitfire retreats to a corner of the living room to hover quietly over her snack and protect it from a prowling Destructo. With only twenty minutes left before lessons, we leave. Dart Guy warns Spitfire not to get any body parts too close to my mouth in the car, and I narrow my eyes at him as we go. On the way there, Spitfire speaks with authority about everything, and I try to stay engaged, as I have read about how this is a crucial time in her life--5 years old in two weeks!--for building her self esteem. I want to give her my undivided attention so she will feel worthy and confident when she grows up, and live an absolutely outstanding and fulfilling life.
We arrive at the Galleria and Spitfire immediately seeks out her skating friend, who stands precariously balanced on thin, metal blades, smiling quietly. I am forgotten except for when Spitfire realizes that I did not fish her gloves from my bag. She yells loudly across the ice, waving her hands and letting all spectators know that I have overlooked her gloves. I remember now, as I duck down and fumble for her gloves, that she is bold and fearless, and collects friends like I collect the pennies at the bottom of this disorderly purse. Maybe her self esteem is on the right track after all.

Sunday, January 18, 2009


Thanks Melissa, Chris, Ben, and Emily for an extremely fun sleepover. Spitfire can not stop talking about it. She especially liked Bible guy at church, who seemed to be stinky. She also liked Jonah, who was stinky.


At 6 this morning, I hear the call: “Mama!” My nineteen month old calls from his crib, using one of the only words he articulates well at this point. At first I ignore it. I like it better when I wake before him and have a few minutes to myself. Plus the electric mattress warmer (an ingenious invention), the flannel sheets, and the rhythmic sounds of Dart Guy’s oblivious breathing all combine to make it hard to leave my place in bed. I think about other things that would be nice to wake up to, preferably much later in the morning: bird songs outside the window of an Aspen cottage in the mountains, wave sounds outside an amazing bungalow on a Maui beach, or softly whispering grass of a hillside in Tuscany. Then I sigh and get up because I realize that, while all those things are innately and extremely appealing, they can not surpass the feeling induced from a toddler’s gently appreciative morning hug.
He has well earned his name in the household—Destructo—and goes immediately to work maintaining it this morning before the sun even rises. He sets his sights on the computer desk and chair—two items that he knows are off limits. While I sleepily address the dirty kitchen counters, he squirms his way into the tiny slice of space between the back of the chair and the top drawer, smiling contentedly as he settles himself in that ever-so-treasured position. I decide to ignore him, knowing that is not consistent with the household rules, but not having enough ambition to change it at the moment. I muddle through some dishes while glancing at him occasionally. I pretend he is doing the bills or writing a novel, though it becomes clear that he is systematically dismantling our wireless mouse. When I finish the dishes, the mouse pieces are strewn across the desk—a battery and a cover lay on opposite ends of the spectrum here. I also notice some new green marker scribbles on the floor. This is possibly the same green marker that created a single, perfect line from Destructo’s brow to ear, covered his left foot almost entirely in feathery scribbles, and marked randomly in both palms. I hope I remember to clean him up before church later, as he appears to have been marked for some sort of bizarre slave trading or child labor ritual. I wonder at his macho penchant for demolition, sometimes thinking maybe it is provoked from my drastically increased consumption of animal flesh while I was pregnant with him (I could rarely go a day without a hamburger when he was in the womb). I make him cinnamon toast, which he doesn’t eat, but rather destroys, chucking it into his mouth in one big chunk as though he is not sure that we will feed him again. This morning my 4 year old, Spitfire, is still sleeping over at a friend’s house, or she would be fiercely monitoring his rabid feeding habits, as is her usual practice. She would be sitting at the ready, piercingly, high-pitched voice only a split second away from deployment. Alas, I’m sure she is, at this very minute, sleeping angelically, as though God, himself, has reached down and placed angels wings on her shoulders. She usually saves her “Spitfire” behavior just for us.