Friday, October 30, 2009
I suited up in my yellow felt jumpsuit, crammed Elijah into his monkey gear and put on Curious George on the TV as inspiration. I applied my giant yellow hat and headed out to the car for our big pre school Halloween party. As I put the car into gear, I realized I had no idea where Eli’s school actually was.
After a series of concentric circles, we stumbled upon the school. The parking lot was filled with uncostumed parents dragging various Darth Vaders and Princesses and Spider Men towards the door. My felt jumpsuit suddenly felt very, very warm. A dude in an SUV gave me the “thumbs up” as he drove past and I remembered why I was there. For the boy.
We walked into the activity room in the YMCA basement and felt 30 pairs of eyes fall upon us. It suddenly dawned on me. For the under five set, Curious George and The Man In The Yellow Hat are massive celebrities. Bigger than Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie and the rest of the People Magazine Top 10 combined.
The kids, and strangely the adults, began shouting, “George! George! Man In The Yellow Hat!" Cameras flashed. A little girl in a Tigger costume ran over and yanked hard enough at my costume that I instantly regretted not wearing sweat pants under the yellow felt.
Eli’s eyes got as big as saucers and moaned, “I wanna go home…” Celebrity did not sit well with him at all. The only way I could convince him to stay was pouring apple juice down his throat. But we spent a good part of the beginning of the party in the darkened room adjacent to the party.
Eli eventually warmed up to the idea of celebrity and we’d do a circle around the tables and refill his juice glass. He would mildly wave at his adoring fans as I acted as body guard.
At the point I was fairly sure the next glass of juice would result in vomit, I packed him up and headed home. I allowed him the forbidden request of watching another episode of Curious George before he went to sleep. Celebrities don’t have to follow rules
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
The whole inspiration for writing this blog was Neal Pollack’s book, “Alternadad.” It’s the story of a somewhat obnoxious hipster raising a “cool” son. The story crescendos with his son, Elijah (natch), having trouble at pre-school because he bites the other kids.
It brings to light by basic concern with our Elijah and pre school. When he’s at our house, he’s an absolute angel. He’s funny and cute and sings songs by himself in his crib. But when he’s out of our sight, is he a jerk? Is he secretly living a double life? Biter by day, great kid by night?
Well, thankfully we’ve discovered over the last few weeks that Eli isn’t the kid who bites at school. He’s the kid who gets bitten.
Diana got an incident report from the school last week. Apparently, a boy in his class was angry that Eli wouldn’t give up a plastic thing and took a bite out of crime. I won’t reveal the boy’s name for fear of getting sued. Let’s just call him “Jerkface Biting Jerk III.”
I took a look at his back, were the bit was (who bites another kid on the back?). There was barely a mark. Just a little red half moon. But I felt a rage that, quite frankly, startled me. I was seized with a desire to seek out Jerkface Biting Jerk III and apply BBQ sauce to his back.
After telling myself boys will be boys, I wondered if I should really be doing anything. If I were a sitcom dad, I’d probably dig out my old boxing gloves and give a heartwarming lesson about self defense before the commercial break.
But I don’t have boxing gloves. And I don’t know anything about self defense. And when I probed Eli about his feelings on the subject, he proclaimed, “I’m delicious!”
So I guess I’ll do nothing and hope next week’s episode is the one where Joe Namath guest stars.
Friday, October 23, 2009
A few months ago, a colleague and I were having beers when he demanded I answer a simple question, “Are you going to be a sissy and force your child to wear a bicycle helmet?”
My initial thought was, “Can I survive jumping out the window to avoid talking to this guy?”
I can kind of see his beer addled point. Overprotection is a slippery slope. One day you’re screwing in child latches on every drawer in the kitchen and the next you’re your draping son in bubble wrap.
Yes, when we were children we raced around on our bikes without helmets. And we sat two inches away from our mom’s cigarettes and hung out the window of the family station wagon and used Crisco as suntan lotion.
BUT WE KNOW NOW THOSE THINGS ARE TERRIBLE FOR YOU. It’s not overprotection when there are decades worth of data proving having a helmet on your head increases the chances you won’t have to collect your brains in a Tupperware container if you fall off your bike.
What does this have to do with anything? It has to do with painting. Lemmie explain.
As you recall, we turned our dining room into a room for Bruce Grover Hamann. Bed for mommy, crib for Bruce, hidden bottle of Jameson for daddy.
But we needed to do some painting, because we’re predicting Bruce is going to be a stickler for decorating. So we hit Home Depot for a paint run.
Apparently, some paint gives off bad fumes. The fumes are caused by something called VOC, or BVD or ADD or something. The colleague at the opening of this story would say, “Kids have been smelling paint fumes for decades. Why are you spending double on low BVD paint?” Because we can. That’s why. Talk to me when you have a kid.
So Diana asked the man behind the counter to make sure we were getting low or no BVD paint. The man looked her right in the eye and said, “All our paint is low BVD.”
So Diana spent the day painting Bruce’s room. Oh, was that because I was working? No, I was playing with Elijah that afternoon. It was because Diana believes I do a horrible job painting and it was faster for her to do it than to have me paint and then redo it all.
Once she finished, she realized the room stunk. Low BVD paint doesn’t have a smell, so it doesn’t take Sherlock Holmes to deduce we got had. Now, we’re convinced Bruce is fine because I famously ate paint chips as a toddler and I turned out okayish. But it didn’t stop Diana from feeling The Rage.
She returned to Home Depot and went to the service desk. There was a nice Hispanic gentleman at the post. Diana said, “Are you the manager?”
“Can you get the manager? Oh, by the way, I’m PISSED. So you may want to take your coffee break.”
The nice Hispanic man ran screaming.
I wasn’t there, but I assume the managers on duty needed a serious diaper change when Di was done with them. Long story short, Home Depot gave us our money back and paid to have Bruce’s room professionally repainted. With another company’s paint.
I don’t have any photos of Diana or Bruce’s room. So just pretend Elijah is Bruce and the green tractor is BVD fumes.
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Can you remember anything before you were five years old? I mean, I got nothing. A vague, fuzzy image of me rocking in bed and my dad looking at me like he was sizing me up for a baby straight jacket. But other than that, zip.
It’s my own lack of memory of things that happened 35 years ago that made me think babies have no ability to remember things. I thought they were like ducks. Each morning is a completely new life.
But like every other thing I think I have figured out about childhood, Elijah proves me wrong every day.
As we wind him down for bed every night, he insists on “Cuddle Cuddle,” which involves rocking him in his chair and listening as he rattles off the tiniest details of things that happened months ago like a baby savant.
A few days ago he asked me to list the animals at the Goebbert’s Farm.
“Uh…there was a pony. I remember that. I have pictures. And…um…a monkey?”
At which point he launched into an inch by inch description of the Farm, complete with how many bites it took the giraffe to consume an ice cream cone filled with feed.
So last night, I decided to use his brainpower for good.
“Elijah, mommy is great, isn’t she?”
“And she’s pretty, wouldn’t you agree?”
“Yes. Mommy pretty.”
“Tomorrow you should tell her she’s pretty.”
This morning while Diana was on the computer I asked Elijah if he remember what he was supposed to say to his mommy.
The little light went on in his head and he sprinted into the office.
“Mommy pretty. Mommy pretty.”
Yes, it was quickly discovered that Eli was coerced. But the five seconds of joy it brought Diana was worth the deception.
But at least I’m not making him fly to Las Vegas with me to count cards.
Monday, October 19, 2009
It’s fall. Most people’s favorite time of year. The air crisps, bronzed leaves fall from the trees, and the giraffes eat ice cream cones from your hands.
As Elijah would say, “Whaaaaaat?”
Since arriving back from another European sports car odyssey, I was anxious to spend not only quality time with the family, but super Hallmark Card quality time. Where our memories would forever be seen with that fuzzy lighting they use on Cybill Shepperd.
My brother and his family invited us to Goebbert’s Farm. It’s a huge pumpkin patch in the west suburbs they visit every year. We agreed to everything but the joining my brother and his family part. Nap schedules didn’t match up.
After only one complete turnaround on the directions, we arrived at Goebbert’s. Let’s see…a beautiful Fall Sunday two weeks before Halloween. Goebbert’s would be empty, right? Yeah, think Normandy landing.
As we passed the huge wooden cut outs of every conceivable cartoon character known to man at the entrance (apparently Goebbert’s has a great copyright lawyer), it dawned on me that I was about the experience child awesomeness. And judging from the fact Eli’s head exploded before we touched a single pumpkin, I was right.
Lemmie lay down just some of the child brain melting we experienced: Pony rides, a metal pumpkin-eating dinosaur, two, count em, two giraffes, a baby tiger, pig racing, port-o potties, corn stalk mazes, a haunted house. The list goes on forever.
What 99% of the stuff we saw has to do with pumpkins, autumn, Halloween or reality, I honestly have no idea. But Elijah raced around in a frenzy that made paying $3 for an ice cream cone filled with seeds (for goats and giraffes to consume along with your finger) worth every penny.
Later that night, I attended a Wilco show with some friends of a friend. I excitedly recalled the day’s events, “And, and there was baby cow that you could pet and I think he liked me…”
The hippest of the dudes there, clad in a leather jacket and choker necklace looked me right in the eye and said, “You just gotta check your cynic at the door, man.”
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
It’s the middle of October, gang. And you know what that means! It’s time to officially announce Elijah’s Halloween costume!
This year, he is going as CURIOUS GEORGE!
I can feel the collective blog world saying, “Least surprising surprise ever.”
Yeah, well. What did you think he was going as, Gandhi? The kid eats, sleeps and poops Curious George. He can be in the middle of having the grandest grand tantrum on the earth and he’ll stop in mid cry to say, “(sniff sniff) Watch Curious George?”
A few weeks ago Diana called me at work and said she needed a huge favor from me. I immediately thought she was going to ask me if she could spend money on new curtains. Because I am a stereotypical dad in a 1950’s TV show.
“Um…do you think you could go to Eli’s Halloween party at school on the 28th?”
“Sure. Why is that a huge favor?”
“I was wondering if you’d dress up as The Man In The Yellow Hat.”
Now, for those of you who don’t know or forgot or lost your sense of childhood working late on advertising stuff, The Man With The Yellow Hat is Curious George’s caretaker. From what I gather from the books and TV show, he doesn’t have much of a job other than rescuing George when he almost kills himself every twenty-two minutes.
So when Di asked me if I’d dress up as the guy who keeps George from getting killed I immediately said yes.
“Well…no other parents will be dressing up.”
See, here is the thing. Roughly two and a half years ago, I decided I was never going to refuse anything to my son based on my ego. If I can make him happy by dancing naked in our living room in full view of our neighbors across the street, great. If I can make him happy by singing the ABC song as loud as I can in Jewel and getting tailed by security, fantastic.
So if I can make him happy by wearing a felt yellow hat and getting laughed at by a bunch of Evanston parents, you bet your butt I’m going to do it.
Monday, October 12, 2009
Bad. Bad bad blogger. I’m really sorry three people who read the blog. It’s not you. It’s me. The demands of sports car performance have kept me out of the loop with the goings on in Elijah Land.
I had to work all weekend, but managed to get home last night in time to see Eli completely covered in spaghetti sauce. I invited Diana to do whatever she wanted while I took over parenting duties. Of course she chose to vacuum the house.
After bathing Eli, I took him upstairs and told him I’d play anything he wanted, thinking he’d want to play “tent,” which involves covering him with a blanket and asking, “Where’s Eli,” over and over.
He surprised me by saying, “I want to play ‘hide and seek.’” I assume this was taught at school, as well as how to sing “Wheels On The Bus” for 3 hours straight.
“Do you know how to play ‘Hide and seek?’”
So I explained the rules to him. He seemed to get it. I put him in his room and asked him to count to five. I heard him counting and I ran into our room to hide. I turned around and found that he had followed me into the room. He immediately screamed and ran.
I followed him into his room and explained the rules of the game again. This time, I told him to run and hide and I’d count. I counted to 5 and opened my eyes. Eli was standing there and immediately screamed and ran.
Not technically “Hide and Seek,” but it was pretty hilarious.
At this point, Grover came upstairs to investigate the screaming. I tried once more to get Elijah to stay in his room and count to five. I made it to our room and hid in plain sight, right around the corner of our doorway. Grover followed me in and stood directly in front of me. Completely giving away my hiding place.
“I’m hiding. Go away. Shoo.”
Grover decided this was the perfect moment to leap on me and start humping. Elijah came in and found me in this compromising position. He screamed and ran.
I’m now worried if he actually plays “Hide and Seek” at school he’s going to ask where they keep the humping dogs.
I don’t have any photographs of us playing “Hide and Seek,” but I do have a shot of Elijah doing a great impression of a ventriloquist dummy.
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
Diana called me today and asked if I would please add a new blog post so she doesn’t have to look at Bruce Sprinsteen’s butt every time she turns on the computer. But I’ve been up to my ears in sports cars, so I’m really without good Elijah material. And as you know, my wife is a bad Eli story giver.
So I asked Diana to manufacture an Eli incident.
“Give him some matches and watch the hilarity fly!” I said.
“No. We have too many cute things to burn our house down.”
“Then. Strip him naked and throw him in the street.”
“No. I like him too much to have DCFS take him away.”
I hung up, frustrated with my Eli writer’s block. So I had to break into my vault of embarrassing and gross dad stories.
***DISCLAIMER*** This is a gross story that involves poop and barf. So if you don’t like stories of poop and barf, go read that Bruce story again.
OK. So what’s my poop and barf secret story? I barf when Eli poops. All the time. And it’s gotten worse over the last couple months. Especially now that he’s getting bigger. When I change his diaper and there is some especially icky contents, I’ll honk. It’s terrible. I can’t help it. I have a hair trigger gag reflex. Ask Grover.
Luckily, the Diaper Gene makes a terrific barf slash poop receptacle. And now that Elijah is getting good at potty training, I can usually make it to the toilet, a mere two feet away from his potty.
I am worried about how this affects Elijah. I do not want him to get a complex over his poop. So far he seems to take it well. He simply asks, “What you doing?” To which I’ll respond, “Daddy’s pretending to be a seal.”
However, last night when I got home I was changing him (a pee, thank goodness) and he asked, “Puke macaroni and cheese?” I said, “Oh no, buddy. You don’t have to puke. That’s just Daddy’s bizarre hang up.”
He seemed fine with adding that to his growing list of weird stuff Daddy does that Mommy doesn’t do.
Thursday, October 1, 2009
Slowly but surely it’s dawning on Elijah that there is another baby coming who is about to ruin his life. He will point at Diana’s belly and say, “There’s a baby in there.” To which I say, “Careful. Mommy is not happy about her big belly. We do not point at Mommy’s big belly. We don’t not mention Mommy’s big belly. We do not think about Mommy’s big belly...”
He also delights in laying in the bassinette we’ve positioned in the dining room we converted into a bedroom. Which was a bedroom before we converted it into a dining room. I apologize to anyone whose head just exploded. But we’re trying to discourage him from laying in the bassinette, because I don’t think our new son will appreciate being smothered by his older brother.
Earlier today, Diana was driving Elijah to Lamb’s Farm. To look at pumpkins. I’m not sure what lambs have to do with pumpkins. Add to that Lamb’s farm is also a home for the mentally handicapped and it’s best not to try to figure it out and just keep this story moving.
Diana asked Elijah his opinion on our frontrunner first name.
Just a sec. We’ve decided not to tell anyone our potential first name anymore. Because whenever we solicit opinions, everyone just gives us their opinion like we asked. Mostly responses have been luke warm at best and downright hostile at worst. And it’s not like we’re suggesting something horrible like Hitlersatan. And since we aren’t getting the response we want, we’ve given up until it’s attached to an unbelievably cute baby. At which point people will be forced under law to say, “Oh my. He looks just like a Hitlersatan!”
Back to the car. Diana asked Elijah, “Eli, what do you think of the name (name withheld) for your new brother?”
“You don’t like it?”
“Well, than what name do you want?”
Bruce? Bruce? This name, aside from being completely awesome, came completely out of thin air. As far as I can tell, Eli has never met a Bruce in his life. There is no Bruce on the two TV shows he watches. His teachers are all ladies, none of them named Bruce. And there is no one at his school whose parents are gutsy enough to name a child Bruce. And I’m sorry to Mr. Springsteen, but we do not listen to his special brand of soulful New Jersey music.
Bruce. I like the ring of it.