So This is Fatherhood


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Misty Water-Colored Memories … Of The Way We Were

My first memory is not a pleasant one.

After digging in the back folders of my brain, I can say that I know what my first memory is.

I wasn’t much older than four years old. The same age that my daughter currently is.

Which worries me.

She is already blessed with a tremendous memory. Her recall is out of this world. Like Total Recall. Get it? Out of this world? OK, moving on …

Special-Needs-Memory-LossShe will ask us if we remember certain things, and her provocation will allow us to remember. But, we may have already forgotten it.

Little items like the color of the walls in a restaurant. Or a person she played with at a park six months prior. Or, maybe, some piece of a conversation she had with us weeks ago.

I have relied on my own good memory a lot in my life (I was a damned good player at the child’s board game “Memory”) but sometimes I cannot keep up with my daughter’s memory.

An easy explanation of why my memory fades is that time-honored tradition of … drinking. And age. Yes, age. Of course. Not the drinking. OK, maybe a little bit of it is some drinking.

But this is something I’ve thought about a lot recently as her memory continues to amaze me.

How is she able to recall things so crisply?

My feeling – and this is without reading any medical journals or consulting with a pediatric psychologist – is that she is able to recall things easier than me because:

  • She only has four years of memories. I have 37 years worth.
  • The things that are important to her aren’t as important to me. (Example: I want her to stop wearing a Pull-Up when she sleeps and have offered all kinds of incentives. She doesn’t seem to care about it.)
  • Her world is a lot smaller than mine, so her concerns aren’t as large.

It’s the third one that I think holds the most weight. At four years old, she is worried about coloring. I am concerned about the particulars of my job, my house, my family, finances, and so on.

Remember

This is the first image that appears in Google when you type “child remembering”

These things strip you of your memory because there’s only so much your brain can handle and each new thing that enters it is competing for recall space with other things. (Wouldn’t it be amazing if there was always a Battle Royale, octagon, Royal Rumble sort of thing happening in your brain and some things just “lost.” Like the Hunger Games – they just lost and died to something stronger. So some major, ‘roided-out neuron that held the memory of, let’s say, how to tie your shoes always won over things like how to type on a computer. You’d have no memory of what to do to function in your life or your job and you’d have to re-learn it every day, but you could tie your shoes like a boss!)

And as I think about my daughter’s incredible memory, I begin to think about what her first memory will be as she ages. Will it be a trip to the zoo? Swinging in the park? Moving to Seattle?

It could even be something disastrous, like me yelling at her not to poop on herself (true), or some kid at school calling her “stupid” (true) or something ridiculous like the dogs barking at the doorbell (true). Wouldn’t that suck to have that be your first memory?

It’s also an odd thing to think about when describing someone’s first memory. I’d have to think that around four years old is when most people say their first memory was burned into their brain, so essentially for over three full years, you’ve been treating this human being to all kinds of things and spending all kinds of money on them … and for what?! They aren’t going to remember it! Ever! Ugh.

I just hope that sometimes I think I suck as a dad (true), even though deep down I know I’m a pretty awesome dad (true), that my daughter’s first memory is something cool. Unlike mine from when my mom and dad were fighting right after their divorce.

I was sitting with my sister on a small windowsill in the hallway outside my dad’s new apartment after he moved out and him and my mom were really arguing. The door was open so I could see them and for some reason my dad grabbed my 5-foot-2 mom by the shoulders (to calm her down? to shake her? to provide a soothing massage?) and she kicked the s*** out of his left shin.

She then walked towards us and told my sister and I it was time to go. And we left.

Ahh, the memories.

So, basically for the next year or so, I am not going anywhere near my wife’s shoulders so that her foot doesn’t go anywhere near my shin and burn that into my child’s brain forever.


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Dirty Water

There is one class that I distinctly remember from my time at UC Santa Barbara (which is probably the average for all Gauchos considering the reputation of the school) and if anyone has taken it, they probably feel that this class left an impression on them as well.

Sociology 152A.

Human Sexuality.

This was not your college version of the fifth grade sex ed course. Oh, no. Far from it.

This was like a weird, masochistic mind game of a course that was oddly attractive because of all the wieners and vaginas on the projector screens, yet oddly disturbing because of all the bumpy, rashy wieners and vaginas on the projector screens.

What also made it oddly disturbing was that this crunchy, older couple who probably only wore Tom’s deodorant like a bunch of hippies and composted in their backyard, taught the course.

The Baldwins.

This is how much the class has stuck with me. The name of the course. The professors. If you went to UCSB, this course was a required course, even if your general education didn’t require it.

There are all kinds of stories from that class that I recall, but one has stood out for many years. And now that I am a parent, it has stood out even more.

1

The Baldwins. The ones with the masturbating toddler.

The Baldwins told a story of how their young daughter once interrupted a dinner party they were hosting …

Tangent: wouldn’t you LOVE to go to a dinner party hosted by the sex ed teachers from UCSB? Holy crap. Could you imagine that conversation? It would be enlightening, yet so disgusting … you’d walk away wondering if these people actually were so sexually beyond normal humans, or if they were closet asexuals and only read about this stuff in books. Fascinating. 

Their young daughter walked into the living room and started rubbing her Raggedy Anne doll on her crotch. The Baldwins claimed they laughed about it and then spoke about this with their friends.

Most normal people would be horrified. I am horrified if my kid sits on the floor at the grocery store. Let alone trying to get some sensation from an inanimate object during a house party.

This is where the Baldwins work in a different stratosphere than we do.

They explained that no matter how young a person was, they had feeling down there. Apparently, it’s just hidden until we all explode with hormones around 13 (OK, that last part was mine. Not theirs).

So, they laughed it off and said something to the effect of, Oh, that’s Jeanine. She loves to feel good with her dolly!

Fast forward nearly 20 years and here I am, trying to bathe my kid. In our new place, we only have showers – no baths – and one has a retractable showerhead. Which is key when washing a four-year-old.

Until …

The stream of water hits her in the crotch.

Oh, Daddy! That tickles! Do it again!

Gulp.

Umm, how about no, Scott?

But there’s not much else I can do.

Am I supposed to wash everywhere but there? Kids are smelly enough. You can’t purposely not wash a known smelly spot. That will lead to a bumpy, trashy picture that could lead to being broadcast in Sociology 152A.

It’s a weird Catch-22. I want my child to enjoy sex. When she gets older. Like late 30s older when I’m senile as hell.

Other than the last sentence, I really do. I don’t want her to be some Quaker-prude. It’s something that everyone can enjoy if done with the right people and in the right ways.

Yet, I get kind of grossed out when I am bathing my child and she now points to her crotch and asks me to spray water there because “it tickles.”

Look, I want my kid to be happy … but not that happy. At least not from me.

But I also want her to be clean. Because a dirty vagina leads to her itching it during class and that will cause a stigma she will never shake. We can’t have that, either.

So, I guess, right now my lot in life is making sure to spray enough water to clean my child, without spraying too much to make her act like The Baldwins’ daughter. It’s like choosing my own personal drought warnings.

And, it means that I need to get online and get that Sociology 152A course book again.


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The American Dream

On the eve of what we could consider our country’s future, this is about as political as I’ll ever get.

I have debated writing this post for several weeks and as the calendar flipped it was either: let this idea die on the vine or post it and hope that the vitriol of this 2016 election stays away from me. I am, as usual, writing in this space for my daughter, my family, and somewhat, for myself. I have no agenda and never will.

All that being said, the following is all I will ever say or write about tomorrow’s Presidential election. This whole campaign – on both sides – actually embarrasses me as an American. And as a human.

But, that said, there is one candidate I am hopeful will come out ahead. It’s not because of the politics, or the vision of leadership, or any form of experience.

It is simply because of my daughter.

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Growing up there is always that little nugget in your brain that lay in the hopes and dreams headlines you entertain of “I want to be President!” For the majority of people that particular dream goes away as we typically find things that interest us much more than politics.

Even if that hope never ceases, the odds of becoming President are worse than riding a rainbow-colored unicorn in an American flag Speedo while following Halley’s Comet’s dust trail.

There have only been 44 Presidents to this point in America’s history. Think about that. Forty-four men have, essentially, been in charge for the last 240 years.

Yet, there’s still that dream some of us have when we’re young. Or that dream we hold on to.

I’ve never been one to crush someone else’s dreams. Especially children’s. I had my dreams smashed when I was a kid and I still vividly remember exactly what was said, where I was and the car I was riding in, and which part of the car I was in.

It sucks. It’s a sickening feeling and I never want to be the one who does that.

As Ella is still coming off the high of being Wonder Woman and thinking she can fly and do wonderful things (or maybe this is a sugar high that lasts for weeks after Halloween?), who am I to get in her way? Let’s encourage that dreaming, that imagination and the idea that she can be a strong, empowered female.

Growing up with mostly just my mom and my sister in my house, I have always been more sensitive to women’s leadership, women’s equal rights and the continued struggle that many professional women have vs. their male peers. Perhaps that’s why I was blessed with a daughter. So I could push her and empower her properly and help her not only break down the walls – but break through them.

So, how can I honestly sit here and tell her she can be whatever she wants to be in her life if there is no example of a female President?

How do you think millions of Black families struggled for decades and told their kids that they couldn’t be President? But now? They have a real-life example of what you can aspire to be.

I don’t follow politics much more than casually. I feel that Hillary Clinton is about as crooked of a politician as you can get. But, again, that’s just my personal feeling without many facts – except all of the headlines you know about, too.

But how am I supposed to encourage my daughter’s imagination by telling her she can be whatever she wants to be without at least an example of a woman President?

Me Honey, you can do whatever you want if you put your mind to it.

Her: I can’t be President.

Me: [silence] Um, how about them Dodgers?

How can I tell her that she deserves equal pay and can be a female leader in whatever capacity she chooses if we have a well-documented misogynist running our country?

Whomever wins tomorrow, I am hopeful that we only have the minimum amount of time with them as our President. In 2020 I pray that we have a fair, balanced election year and with candidates that don’t make me embarrassed and avoid all election coverage. Basically, I want a group of people who don’t make me want to vomit in my shoe.

However, I do want progress. And, maybe we won’t have much progress in our country or our foreign affairs, or taxes, or joblessness, or whatever many other ills we face every day.

That’s all I’m wishing for. Progress. At least enough where in a few years I can honestly tell my daughter that she can become President of the United States of America if she so desires.

I’m not with her, as the campaign goes. I’m with my daughter. And her dreams, her hopes – and those of many, many parents who may also be in this same situation.hillary-clinton-vs-donald-trump-cartoon-598


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Slow Down, You Move Too Fast

1327448169272_1113595It was sometime during first grade. I just remember the day being sunny. But we get 329 of those every year in Southern California so it could have been October. Or February. Who knows?

Mrs. Hart had a mixed class due to overcrowding in LA Unified School District classes. Some classes had first and second graders. Some second and third graders. Around that age, they figured, some of the more adapt younger students could be mixed in with a grade older. Somehow I made the cut.

During an activity, being the goofball and attention-seeker that I am, I took a bottle of that grade-school glue. You know, the kind that tasted a little salty (don’t say you didn’t try it) and was clumpy and came in clear bottles that resembled ketchup and mustard containers at a burger joint.

I was messing around, typical for a 6-year-old boy and turned it over my head. I didn’t squeeze, but I said Oh, look, I’m washing my hair!

Suddenly, the glue came out. All over my head. Talk about the best hair gel you can get.

Mrs. Hart was furious. She grabbed me by the arm and pulled me to the sink she had in her classroom. She scrubbed my head so hard I thought my hair was going to fall out.

Why can’t you just grow up? she yelled at me.

***

Not many years later, and for subsequent years after that, my dad would ask the same thing every time I did something that was fun and silly. Basically, being a kid.

Matthew, grow up.

Act your age.

Can you please just stop screwing around and act like an adult?

As adults, of course we all want our kids to act older and more mature. It’s what we’re used to and after long days, or weeks, of work we just want to relax. Having a kid prevents that from happening the way you always envision.

It’s not that I was 14 years old and crawling around under tables at restaurants. Or speaking in a baby voice while conversing with others. I was just being a kid. Enjoying life.

My dad, who doesn’t seem to get much joy out of life’s daily pleasures – at least not outwardly – just wanted me to fall in line like the rest of society.

***

My daughter is three. She tells me every day she is almost four. Technically speaking, she is correct. Literally speaking, she is months away. The concept of time has eluded her thus far in her life.

Daddy, I’m going to be four tomorrow.

Wrong.

Then I’m going to be five, and then six, and then seven, and then eight, and then nine, and then 10! Then when I’m 10 I can have coffee!

Not quite, but needless to say she is looking forward to growing up.

Weren’t we all when we were young?

the_breakfast_club

This is what we all wanted to grow up to when we were 12.

Watching John Hughes movies in the 1980s I couldn’t wait to get to high school. Then when high school turned out to be as much joy as you’d get passing a kidney stone, I couldn’t wait for college.

As much fun as I had in my time in college, I couldn’t wait to begin my career.

And then, all of a sudden, I was 30 yearning for the carefree days of the summers when I was 18, 19 and so on.

It’s difficult for a kid to not want to grow up. Adults get to do all the cool things!

Stay up late. Drive cars. Drink coffee. Play on the computer.

I get it.

Right now, my daughter sees children at her daycare/school who are older and she wants to be in their classes. She wants to not only climb the monkey bars, but climb on top of the monkey bars.

Let’s worry about mastering swimming first, sweetheart.

So it pains me when she gets so excited to get another year older.

Slow down. Let’s enjoy the moment. Meander in the front yard and blow the dandelions. I love watching you experience the world for the first time.

Don’t tell me to hurry up and ride home when you’re on the back of my bike … I’m enjoying this with you right now. I’d love for you to walk next to me in the grocery store, but isn’t it better if I can just push you in the cart a little while longer?

The world is scary at times. You don’t know that yet. You only see the beauty, the joy, the cloudless skies. As an adult you’re always on the lookout for potential rain.

Stay young. Be young. Keep smiling and keep giving me hugs.

You won’t hear me chide you to Grow Up! any time soon.

And, all of a sudden, this movie clip hits closer to home.

 


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Wearing Her Heart on Her Sleeve

What do you want Daddy to bring you from New York? I said to her as I laid her down in bed to sleep, hours before I would be on a flight for work travel.

A heart, came the reply. A big one with sparkles and glitter and that’s shiny!

2000px-I_Love_New_York.svgMy kid first got on this heart kick nearly a year ago. Last Christmas all she wanted from Santa was a heart. So she got a small jewelry box she could decorate and glue and paint little hearts all over it. She loved it.

Whenever we ask her what she wants, it’s usually a heart. (Except this year she wants Santa to bring her a baseball bat. Proud Dad moment right there.)

It’s hard to reason with a three-year-old. Or to even get to the root cause of things. Unless, of course, you like babble, non-sequiters, blatant lies and the willingness to talk about Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood.

We hear stories all the time about how some girl in her daycare kicked her in the face. Which is either ridiculous, or awesome because my daughter doesn’t come home with bruises. She would be more like Bruce Lee and not Bruised Lee.

Or we’ll ask why she did something and get a non-answer. Or if she wants to be “good Ella” or “bad Ella.” Except once she said I want to be bad Ella and I immediately thought she was going to be riding on the back of some guy’s Harley when she was 16. These are the kinds of things that you deal with as a protective dad with a daughter. It’s only going to get worse, I know.

Except with the heart thing, I finally got an answer out of her a few months ago.

Hey, kiddo, why do you always want hearts? What’s up with that?

Because a heart means ‘I love you.’

World. Turned.

It’s these moments in time that, as a parent, just strike you. How does this little bundle of emotions wrapped in a 35-pound body figure all that out? And how does she just want love? That’s all that matters to her.

Like Lennon said: All we need is love.

My kid gets that.

Perhaps I should ask her about the 2016 Presidential election because that’s pretty effing messy and she may just have the answers that no pundits or political correspondents can figure out.

Picture this: Wolf Blitzer saying And now we go to Southern California where Ella Hurst has all the answers about the 2016 election. And they zoom in on her drinking milk and coloring.

So, my child wanted me to bring her a heart home from New York? Easy enough – just one of those I [heart] NY shirts or something. Problem solved.

Except this morning the love was gone when I talked to her. Daddy, I want you to bring me home a stuffed Statue of Liberty doll.

Crap. She doesn’t want to feel loved anymore. Except, out of the blue, she said I miss you, Daddy.

How do you do it, kid?


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Sifting Through the Madness

I laid down to sleep last night and the last thought I had before my brain finally turned off was “Did these people ever think that this was their last day on earth?”

At the end of a horrific week in recent memory – during a year that has already been turbulent – it was hard to imagine leaving everything behind. What you live for, work for, fight for. A wife. A child. A house. Family. Friends. Dogs.

When I woke this morning, I saw my dog laying near the front door. Perhaps how some other animals wait for their master to come home. And they may just keep waiting. Their master never coming home.

It was a sobering way to start a Friday. There’s nothing good to come out of what happened in Dallas, or St. Anthony, or Baton Rouge this week. Way too many people’s lives have been ruined – more than just those who were directly involved.

If anything, it can re-position your perspective. If there is anything to take from it as I sit thousands of miles away maybe it’s a small piece of purpose behind the madness.

The morning was deliberately slow. I laid in bed with my kid a little longer than normal, extending our morning ritual of her drinking milk, me drinking coffee, PBS cartoons keeping her occupied, the news on my phone holding my attention.

I hugged her and kissed her and took extra time with her.

By the time I was out of the shower, it was past 7 am; another way to put it is that normally she is being dropped off at daycare at this time.

We brushed our teeth together. I combed her hair. Then I put gel in my hand and ran it through my hair. Normal procedures, all.

Maybe my kid has a sixth sense but around that time she snapped to life.

Daddy, can I have some of that?

Gel? Normally this would be hit with a resounding no. What’s the harm, really?

So I put a little in my hand and then put it in her bangs.

Can I see?

I held her to the bathroom mirror. Oh! Daddy! I look pretty just like you!

She took a little longer to put her socks on, painstakingly trying to get the colored parts on her toes and heel. Once complete she went to putting her shoes on. Suddenly the Sahara Desert was in the floor of my house. Seriously, how do kids get – and keep – so much sand in their shoes?

Hell, it’s just sand, I thought. We can sweep it up.

She went out to the kitchen area and I served her toast with jelly for breakfast. Standard.

Daddy, can you eat your breakfast with me?

It’s a question I’ve never been asked on a weekday when we’re rushing to get out the door. Or, maybe, I’ve never noticed it because I’m trying to rush out the door.

I poured a cup of coffee, grabbed a protein bar and sat down at an impossibly small table designed for toddlers.

Daddy, this is delicious! Do you love your bar?

Affirmatively, I nodded.

Can I try some?

Why not? I gave her a small piece – because she’s trying to watch her waistline, too. (That’s a joke … in the words of my wife the other day: “Ella, if all I could eat was mac and cheese and never worry about my weight, I’d never complain.”)

We sang the Spongebob Squarepants song in the car. Twice. She told me she loved me – an idea that probably escapes her fully, but she knows it’s something we say to her and each other. She also told me I was her best friend.

She gave me an extra tight squeeze before she went into her classroom.

I’m convinced this kid has a sense of something greater sometimes.

Perspective is a great reminder. Sometimes the rest of life can wait.

Hug whoever you love a little harder today. Call your mom. Smile.

When you lay your head down tonight, be grateful. You don’t want to leave your dog waiting by the front door without appreciating the things that make your time here worth it.


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Sweet Sassy Molassy

Oh! That’s a great age! They’re so much fun!

That’s the majority of responses I get when I say I have a three-year-old.

My reaction is usually Does it get worse?

I like to think that aside from a five-year stretch from 12-17, that having a kid only gets better as they get older. You can travel together to far-reaching lands, make it through an entire PG-13 movie, explore new cuisines, share a bottle of wine, and so on. I’m under the impression that this parenting thing does, indeed, get more fun as you and your child share more common interests.

Right now, our common interests are ice cream and driving my wife crazy.

Overall, yes, my kid is pretty cool. In fact, our friends tell us so. She’s a little nuts, but what do you expect from someone who has me as a dad?

But, as she experiences more of life – and spends more time with older peers at daycare – she is developing an attitude like you’d expect from Nene Leakes.

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We have become quite familiar with arm-crossing, back-talk and the ever-popular “I don’t want to!” with multiple emphasis on the final two syllables. She’ll throw in a foot stomp or a primordial scream here and there just to keep us honest.

Then there’s always the non-listening and the pouty face. Yep, my three-year-old wannabe reality TV star.

Admittedly, I’m the worst at reacting to it. I want to sass right back to her and tell her I can get hood real quick. I guess that’s the benefit of the San Fernando Valley, Palmdale, Riverside and Vallejo on my personal ledger.

Sometimes, when your kid is being an A-hole, you want to be an A-hole back to them. It’s like Who can be the bigger A-hole contest? Or, who can out A-hole each other? (Yes, I often wonder if I am sometimes the most mature parent.)

So this may be my reaction …

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Instead I just put her in a timeout and think of the SNL clip of “Sweet Sassy Molassy.” It usually shapes her up for the larger portion of the day and then we’re good. We can go back to ripping gas and laughing – another benefit of a three-year-old: all farts are funny.

What is bothersome, though, is that the attitude travels. My daughter has sassed back to both of her grandmas, which ticks me off. All grandmas do is love – especially these two. Talk about spoiling a kid, whew … we’ve got it lucky with how much they love Ella and how they treat her.

When do the threenager years stop? Or do they just evolve to more eye-rolling, permanent arm-crossing, more feet stomping and talking back?

I can’t remember my sister acting this way at a young age. She waited until her 20s.

It’s got to end, right?

Thing is, my kiddo is overly good enough to get her way a lot of the time. We do the parenting thing where we take a doll away, or put her in a timeout, or hold her head underwater like in Guantanamo Bay revoke promised treats and ice cream … things that matter to a three-year-old. One of these days, we’ll hit a larger nerve and something will stick. And, by one of these days, it will probably be when she’s nine and has the iPhone 17 and is texting some boy named Chazz or something. Then we may have the breakthrough.

Until then, I’ll just keep entertaining myself with the stupid nicknames I call her in my head.

Sweet Sassy Molassy.

Sass-quatch.

Sass-afrass.

Sass-parilla.

Sass-achusetts.

Sass-partame … the sugar substitute.

And then remind myself, when my three-year-old Nene rears her ugly head …

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The Age of Innocence

There are times during this entire fatherhood journey where I can simply take a breath, reflect and experience the world through the lens of my three year old’s eyes.

The moments are sometimes few as we all inevitably fall into the regular rat race of life – trying to make sure we’re taking care of ourselves to try and ensure the livelihood of our families, our homes and, especially the futures of our children. I am as guilty of this as anyone, if not more so.

And even though I spent the majority of my Sunday working around the house – general homeowner things that tend to need attention – it’s small moments that my daughter experienced this week when I just want to hug her, kiss the top of her head and be still in the world during with her and let everything else pass by.

236c3e9e97890d266b108013f108be27Every morning that I drive her to daycare, we usually cover three topics. It’s easy since the drive is no more than five minutes.

1) What are you going to do at school today?

I’m going to listen to my teachers.

Note: listening is not one of my daughter’s best attributes.

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There’s a big difference between sleepovers in tents at the library and sleeping in tents that you call “home” in urban areas.

2) How are you going to play with your friends?

Nice and gentle, she says as she softly rubs her own face.

Note: sometimes my child channels her inner Ronda Rousey.

3) How are you going to act?

Like a leader.

3a) And what does that mean?

To do the right thing.

Note: This one is still a work in progress. We’re trying to get her to think this way although the overall concept probably escapes her grasp. She’s getting there, but it’s something I want to institute now.

It was during our morning drive routine when she didn’t immediately answer one of these typical queries. She saw a man walking on the sidewalk.

He was homeless. A stereotypical vagrant of a homeless person you may expect to be cast in a movie if they needed what we all think a homeless person should look like. Terribly unkempt hair, ratty beard, holes in his filthy clothes. Someone who had taken several wrong turns in life, but in one way or another was still gutting it out.

My daughter saw him, and his yellow backpack with a foam roller on it and her focus on our questions went askew.

Daddy, that man is going to the library for a sleepover.

I did a double take and then lobbed back a simple Oh, yeah? at her, struck by the fact that my three-year-old has yet to tell the difference of a homeless person and a person going to a sleepover. She saw the backpack, had just finished watching her morning PBS shows and somehow concluded that this person was sleeping over at the library.

How we view the world is obviously jaded and probably more negative than it should be based on our own experiences and the influences we have: stories, news reports, experiences of others and so on.

Yet, my daughter just saw a human being. A man walking with a backpack and assumed the best. He was simply going to the library, to learn and read, and meet his friends, and then sleep there.

For a moment I wished she was right. And in that moment I wanted to crawl into that space with her and believe it too.

 


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Life With a Threenager

Until I saw some pictures tonight, there’s certainly a few things about the first year of my child’s life that I had forgotten.

Like the fact that she had no hair until well after her first birthday. Or the types of pacifiers she had. Or a set of clothes. Or how small she was.

And that was less than three years ago.

Screen-Shot-2015-09-15-at-20.41.24So it only stands to reason that when she hits her high school years I am going to forget how she is already hormonal at three years old.

Yes. It’s true. I am dealing with a threenager.

It’s not so much the attitude. I can mostly handle that. Mainly because I know I could totally take her in a feat of strength, or throw down in an arm wrestling competition and take her out. So, if she wants attitude, I’ll defeat her with strength. Or some of my own attitude. I can out-attitude with the best of them. Problem solved.

And it’s not so much the lying. Kids are going to lie to their parents. It’s just how it goes. Quick confession: Mom, I forged your signature once to get out of detention. Pretty sure the teacher knew, but it worked.

It’s the wild mood swings and the selective listening.

That’s some ish I cannot handle.

The mood swings kill me. How can someone be so excited and pleased to feed ducks old, stale bread and then cry 30 seconds later because they want to go home? In what world is that normal?

How can we be riding bikes and cracking jokes about what’s for dinner (Daddy, do you want to eat rice and cars for dinner? How about rice and grass?) and then turn on the water works because the idea of trees and beans is not as appealing?

I was building up my preparation for uncontrollable mood swings … but 12 years from now! Why do you think I’ve been watching so many John Hughes films?!

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Daily occurrence. 

But, Lord. The listening. Or lack thereof. Egads. It kills me.

Half the time I wonder if my child’s ears are painted on.

I remember selectively listening my mom, or my teachers. I distinctly remember this. But I was 16 and it was a phase of “Leave me alone” which I presume all teenagers go through – or else pop culture and my own experiences just lied to me.

To have it happen at three years old is mind bending.

The worst part of it is actively looking your child in the eye, telling her something, and then having her completely ignore you.

And so many people say this is “the fun age.” It gets worse?

Imagine, in your adult life, your boss asks you to do something. You nod, agree and go your separate ways to handle business. When your boss returns you have one shoe off, there are crayons all over the floor and part of your shirt is above your head.

Sounds like Friday night to me.

But this is how it is … in a blink of an eye you go from Please put your shoes away to complete anarchy.

Holy moly.

I keep thinking that this blog space is going to be a nice reminder and some sort of gift to my daughter one day. See all the funny things you did to make daddy prematurely gray?

But I think that this one is more for me. A time capsule, so I can remember when we actually hit the teenage years that I already dealt with this once.

 


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The Name Game

Growing up I had a teddy bear named Forley.

Forley was like My Buddy, without looking like a creepy midget wearing overalls and a ballcap. I took Forley everywhere I went from about age three to age eight or so. And his tattered look showed.

I had Forley in my room until about middle school and then retired my old friend to the closet as I hit my teens. During various moves in my life, Forley met his demise in some attic somewhere and eventually into a landfill.

The thing is, I have no idea why this unspectacular teddy bear – average looking for all intents and purposes – was named Forley.

Which is probably why I cannot explain why my daughter has taken to naming her animals, both inanimate and real, with unique names.

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This is our new female fish, Patrick.

Last weekend we bought her a beta fish, figuring a three-year-old could learn a little responsibility with a pet – feeding it, watching it grow, ultimately the circle of life. She has really enjoyed having this fish in her room and loves to feed it and watch it swim.

The beta fish was labeled as a female. Naturally my daughter named the fish “Patrick.”

For the record, we don’t know a single person named Patrick in our lives. Not even as a last name (Danica Patrick and Dan Patrick, as sports celebrities don’t count). My kid doesn’t even watch Spongebob Squarepants which would maybe help explain the name “Patrick” as Spongebob’s trusty sidekick.

And yet we now have Patrick the female beta fish living under our roof. At least Patrick is a normal name.

As part of her Easter basket my daughter received a small stuffed baby chick doll. It now is part of her “family” that sleeps with her at night – joining the ranks of two baby dolls, Minnie Mouse and a stuffed Easter bunny. It’s a pretty cramped twin bed.

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This is Baby Chloe, the given name out of the box. Yet, when her eye fell out I started calling her Carl. You’ll understand if you’re a Walking Dead fan. My daughter now calls her Carl as well, which is hysterical.

The baby chick, though, needed a name.

Me: What should we name this animal?

Daughter: Tata-tooey

And the legend of Tata-tooey was born.

It’s probably a good thing that humans under five cannot bear children or else we’d all be walking around with names that came straight out of Star Wars and have to fill out business cards and resumes and not have people laugh at us if we were named Jar-Jar Binks.

The big question is where the hell does this come from? It’s not like she’s a sheltered kid. She goes to daycare and has regularly named children in her class – Layla, Joey, Isabella, Victoria, Taylor and so on.

But I suppose that Tata-tooey makes as much sense as Forley so why try and figure it out?