Sunday, May 31, 2009
One half of Elijah’s gene pool spent their youth traveling Europe, singing and dancing, following the Grateful Dead and Phish, working at bars and possibly getting naked in the musical “Hair.”
The other preferred the cool, cool confines of their mother’s basement where they could debate Star Wars, practice the Baritone Horn and engage in epic Dungeons and Dragons sessions with their twin nerd.
Let’s see if you can guess which parent Eli takes after.
Yesterday we took the family out to the south suburbs for some wedding shower awesomeness. The hosts had the marvel idea of actually getting an education in college. So their home was stunning. Pool, volleyball, forest preserve. Helicopter pad. Basically, take our house and think the opposite.
Eli took on the behavior of a wolf recently released from two years of captivity.
Luckily, he had Grandpa Ed and Grandma Connie and roughly a hundred great uncles to watch over him, but I, being of the Baritone Horn set, kept close track. I’d crack open a beer and watch as he barreled towards the forest preserve.
I’d think, “Surely he’ll get scared and come back to dada.” And then count to five. And then ten. And then fifteen. At which point I’d run into the forest frantically where I’d find him conversing with an ant.
He was so intent on jumping into the pool that Grandma Connie soaked her nice wedding shower clothes trying to prevent drowning. I reluctantly, very reluctantly changed into swimming trunks and entered the pool with him. Some of the guests had to chance don sunglasses to shield them from sun reflecting off my skin. But most simply turned their backs so didn’t have to be disgusted by my stomach.
Where as a normal child who hadn’t been in a pool since he couldn’t crawl would take things easy, my son kept shouting, “Uppie!” and demand to be placed at pool’s edge, where he could attempt a baby double gainer.
After he was dried off, I left him in the capable hands of his cousin Finn, who inherited a much more cautious gene pool. Finn spent the rest of the day stiff-arming Eli away from trouble.
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Since the days when Elijah would go through literally 7 changes of onesies in a 24 hour period, I’ve often wondered if Diana’s extreme clean freakness would prevent our son from enjoying the grubbiness that makes boys, boys. A little too much hand scrubbing here, a little too much hair combing there and next thing you know you're at the mall pricing size 3T plastic bubbles.
Thankfully, Diana embraced Eli’s need to get filthy wholeheartedly. At the end of any given day, he will look like a street urchin, chimney sweep or any other character in Disney’s delightful depictions of disease-ridden London of the 1800’s.
By the time we tossed Eli into the tub Saturday night, he was more dirt than boy. We knew a simple soak in a bubble bath wouldn’t cut it. So it was shower time. I decided to join him, because I was filthy myself. I had spent a large portion of the day pretending to be a suburban dad, painting windows, drinking beer, scratching, etc.
As soon as I got in the tub and watched Eli go nuts with our hand shower thing, I got struck in my brain bean by a fantastic idea.
“Hey, Eli. Wash dada,” I said pointing at myself.
“Spray me with the shower thing.”
But suddenly, Elijah remembered a Sesame Street documentary where they rinsed elephants off at the Brooklyn zoo. And he got to work. And wouldn’t you know? He did a heck of a job.
p.s. I looked and looked for a photo that would be more embarrassing when he’s an adult than a story about washing his father. Nailed it!
p.s.s Thanks a lot for everyone who puts comments on the blog. It’s the highlight of my day to see them. I have no idea how to respond to you individually, but I really appreciate it.
Friday, May 22, 2009
Writing the blog does take a small amount of effort. I usually have to tap my pencil against my head and stare out the window for a few moments to convert the mundane details of our lives into something legible. But occasionally, blog entries emerge fully formed and the only thing I have to do it get it typed before I forget it.
This week, a hilarious blog entry literally popped out of Eli’s butt and the world conspired against me to get it typed. It happened Wednesday and work came crashing down on my head. And yesterday Diana was laid up after a doctor appointment, which left me in charge of a restless two year old whose entire life seemed to revolve around an intense desire to take his shoes off in broken glass filled public places.
Well, thankfully today I can skip meetings and get this entry done.
Allow me to set the stage. Diana put Elijah down for his midday nap Wednesday afternoon and went about her business. After she was convinced he was in REM sleep, she went into our room, where he naps in his Pack And Play, and checked on him.
In true Elijah form, he had removed his pants and diaper and his little bottom was thrust high into the air as he snored. Diana decided to let sleeping babies lie. She thought at worst he would pee all over himself and she’d have to deal with a damp angry son.
After a bit, she heard the telltale recitations of the alphabet and the theme to Sesame Street chirping from our room that meant Eli was awake. As she slid our door open, it hit her like a ton of bricks. Something terrible had happened.
Apparently in his sleep, Elijah was dreaming of chocolate or mud. Because he not only made a horrible accident, he rolled in it in his sleep. And it was everywhere.
Diana said what anyone would in this situation, “Aaaarrrrrgh!”
Elijah summed up the situation in his greatest sentence to date, “Eli poo poo. Not Good.”
Diana has told this story over and over again in the hopes that she will receive sympathy. The only thing she ever gets is the listener’s hysterical laughter at that punch line.
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Every few days, I ask, beg and plead for Diana to send me new Elijah photos so I can avoid posting blurry ones like yesterday. And for the most part, she comes through like a champ. Cute. Funny. Full of goo.
But inevitably, she will include a photo like today. A naked baby picture. Now, watching my son be naked in the comfort of my own home is great. In fact, I prefer naked Eli to clothed Eli. He’s free and easy in his skin. But at work, naked photos of anyone, let alone someone under the age of 5 is not cool.
Let’s say for instance you are the head of Human Resources and you’re strolling around the office looking for reasons to fire someone. And you happen to look into a certain overpaid creative’s office who is known for making mischief. And you see he is gazing at nude child photo. What do you do? What do you do?
I emailed the naked Eli photo to my art director, Matt, and asked him to add pixels to the image so I could use it in today’s post. A few seconds later he rushed into my office and shouted, “Are you trying to get me fired?”
Thinking this situation wasn’t weird enough, I posted about it on my Twitter account (for those of you unfamiliar with Twitter, don’t worry. It’s a fad that will be over shortly). I immediately got inundated with internet “friend” requests from creeps like “NudeGuy” and “NakedLady69.” In one fell swoop I am now part of the online weirdo world.
And yet, Diana still can’t understand why I refuse to post more nude photos on the blog. I think I am one naked Eli photo away from getting a knock on the door from the good folks at the FBI.
Monday, May 18, 2009
Lemmie start off by saying. Elijah is a good kid. He says “Please” and “Thank you” and he hugs his grandparents and strangers and his fit throwing is down to a manageable level.
But he’s smart. Some would say too smart. Some being me. He’s very good at pushing boundaries to see how far he can go before he gets a “Time out.” It’s totally normal and good for his development.
The thing is, we don’t know where the boundaries are. Or where they should be. Or what they look like. Or what they’re made of. Barbed wire?
Some boundaries are easy. No violence. We are a hitting free house. You are not allowed to take a swing at your father unless you are both characters in the book “The Great Santini.” Even then you have to wait until you beat your father in basketball for the first time.
Also, no trying to maim yourself. Standing on bookshelves, banging on second floor screen windows and pulling a pin on a grenade are all grounds for Time Outs.
But then there is a huge grey area that I like to call “Weirdness.” Diana and I like to encourage weirdness. You want to spin around until you fall down? Go nuts. Rubbing pasta sauce in your hair? Okay. But its hard to tell when weirdness crosses over to naughtiness.
Take yesterday. We visited Diana’s folks so they could get some baby time and because I wanted to collect my birthday present from them. Diana attempted to pass off some store bought cupcakes as her own. They were gross, so they sat on the deck furniture, uneaten.
Along comes Eli. He toddled up to the cupcakes and then systematically licked each and every one and carefully replaced it. I would technically call that wasting food, which is a subset of the “Mess Making” discipline category. Which, incidentally Diana and I have differing views on.
But we ended up letting him demolish the cakes without getting into trouble. It was too nice a day to yell at him.
Later that night we busted him climbing on our clothes hamper in an attempt to hang from the fancy birdcage we have attached to our ceiling.
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
As a Dad, I feel I have a responsibility to teach Elijah some things that women-folk just don’t understand. Things that will help Elijah become a man. Or at least become a Fraternity member. You know, like how to fire a shotgun (which I don’t know how to do), order a martini (which I do know how to do) or how to throw a punch (which I know how to do, but badly).
Over the last few weeks, I’ve been secretly teaching Elijah something that, if I’m discovered, will land me in hot water with Diana. I am teaching Eli the joys of tooting.
On the nights when Diana works, I’ll come home and play with him for a little while before he goes to bed. And inevitably, I’ll get him to pull my finger. I don’t know when it started. But his reaction is priceless. He’ll howl with laughter and say, “Dada toot!” To which I’ll say, “Tooting is funny, son.” He wholeheartedly agrees.
This morning I was in the shower while Diana was asleep. Eli came into the bathroom, bored. He started yanking on the towels and entering the beginning stages of mischief. So I said, “Eli, look at this.” And I blew into my arm, creating a toot. He looked at me like I had produced a block of solid gold out of thin air.
I then instructed him to blow into his own arm. I think his expression is what Cavemen had when they discovered fire for the first time.
Thankfully, he got bored with it before Diana woke up. But she’s working tonight. So the education continues.
Sunday, May 10, 2009
Today’s Diana’s third Mother’s Day. Un-freaking-believable. She is the one who keeps this wagon train moving. She keeps Elijah from destroying himself and our house (right now, she is holding him down in the bathroom trying to brush his teeth while he shouts “Peanut!” over and over at the top of his lungs) 24 hours a day. And she does it while looking like someone who could be mistaken for a 22 year old. We’ve really turned into a bad sitcom cast. Hot wife, cute kid, oaf husband. All we need is Jerry Stiller living in the basement. Too obscure? It’s called the internet. Look it up.
For her ironic gift, Eli and I allowed her to spend the day as a non parent. You know, to remind her what life was like before negotiating urination with monkey stickers. She spent it shopping for clothes and shoes. Lame. If it was me, I would’ve gone on a three state robbery spree. Or probably just a bar.
For her non-ironic gift, Elijah drew her a scribble letter, which I had to translate. Man, for a two-year-old his penmanship is terrible. Here is what he wrote:
“Dear mommy. You are the best mommy in the world. You are super pretty and nice and you sing really great. And you’ve taught me everything I know. I am the luckiest boy in the world because you are my mommy. Love Elijah.”
He meant every illegible word of it. Me too. I love you.
Special shout out to my mom, who is under the weather. Get well soon, Jane.
p.s. I just heard Diana shout from the bathroom, “Hey! You can hurt your penis that way!” Eli, if you are reading this in the future and you still have a penis, thank your mother.
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
Having a brother who is an accomplished painter and illustrator has its advantages. For example, let’s say you suddenly need an unflattering portrait of your baby with the head of former president Bush. Bam. Consider it done. Enter…the closet.
Elijah has a tiny, coffin-like closet in his room. At some point last December we floated the idea of turning it into a play area, complete with a Steve Hamann original mural. Steve was excited about the project, so long as we paid him in beer. After Diana suggested the motif be “jungle.” Steve said, “cool,” and predicted it would take 2 weeks from start to finish. Do you see where this is going?
The first thing that comes to mind when you see Steve’s paintings is “Whimsical.” Unfortunately for me, his official assistant, the second thing that comes to mind is “Meticulous.” Every Wednesday, Steve and I would cram ourselves into the coffin and he would instruct me to paint an area. I’d slop on some green with a roller and shout, “beer break!” I’d turn to Steve and realize he had yet to finish a single leaf in the jungle.
Over the weeks and weeks and weeks (and weeks), rainforests in South America would grow, be cut down and grow again while Steve shaded in an eyeball on a bird that you could only see with a magnifying glass.
Granted, a large portion of his work was repairing the damage I was doing. I’d proudly announce the completion of a lion and he’d speak to me like one of his third grade students. “Gee, if you close one eye and squint it does look like a lion. Or possibly a worm.” And then he’d commence turning it into a real lion.
After a couple months I was relegated to “official leaf shader.”
As Winter gave way to Spring, Diana started inquiring when we thought the painting would be done and when Elijah would cease being banished from his own closet. Steve’s patented response was, “We’re close.”
Well, it’s May. And Steve still thinks we’re close. Diana has had enough and put in carpet and toys and pillows. And wouldn’t you know it? Eli has no interest in the closet coffin. He’ll poke his head in and say, “elephant,” but then return to the non-coffinness of his room.
Diana, however, loves it. She uses it as her hiding place and library and nap-coffin. And I can see why. Take a look at the pictures. It’s pretty freaking cool.
Incidentally, Steve is coming over tonight to work on it. If you want to see his other meticulous paintings, go to his website: stevehamannart.com.
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
We recently made a discovery in our potty bribe scheme. Elijah doesn’t actually like M&Ms. It’s kind of our fault. We don’t allow him to eat refined sugar. Because we’re Frisbee chucking hippies. It was a little like giving a first time drinker a shot of Jameson. He was actually stuffing M&Ms into his mouth and secretly tossing them into the toilet so as to not make us feel bad. Um, give them to me, dude.
So Diana smartly moved on to stickers. My dad says its very behavioral psychology of us. I arrived home yesterday and saw our sticker board had several new additions. After asking, I got a hilarious recount of the day’s pee pee and poo poo events.
It was quite beautiful in Evanston. Bordering on warm. And Eli decided he did not want to wear diapers. Again. So Diana sat him down and laid down the rules of the day.
Rule 1: In order to walk around naked, you have to go pee pee and poo poo in the potty.
Rule 2: Not adhering to Rule 1 results in permanent diaper wearing.
Eli got the hint and immediately walked over to his potty and deposited pee pee. Chalk up one monkey sticker.
Later in the day, Diana was in the kitchen and Nude Boy toddled by and entered the bathroom. Diana was happily preparing to attach sticker #2 for the day when she saw our son climb onto our lid-down mommy and daddy toilet. He grabbed the shelves behind the toilet and squatted. Diana was barely able to run across the room and catch his, um, leavings with his potty chair. She put up a giraffe sticker because he made the effort, weird as it was.
Right before I got home, Diana was in the kitchen again and momentarily lost track of Eli. A few seconds later, he emerged from our dinning room closet and said, “Messy.” Diana looked in the dinning room closet and debated burning down our house as an alternative to cleaning up what he did.
No sticker was rewarded.
Monday, May 4, 2009
Saturday, we had a realtor showing at our house. Diana’s OCD went into overdrive since our house looked like someone tossed a grenade in our living room. She took one look at me laying on the couch, in my underwear, with a filthy two year old sitting on my belly and said, “You two. Out.”
We decided to meet Steve, Finn and Rory at the Rock Park. It’s a park with a, um, big rock in it. Elijah got to engage in his favorite activity, swinging. But he also learned some new awesome things from his cousin.
First, Finn taught him his first “knock knock” joke. It went as follows. “Knock knock. Who’s there? Banana. Banana who? (Fart sound).” Followed by hysterical laughing. This joke was repeated so many times that the other parents gave us a wide birth at the swing set.
Second, Finn taught Eli how to play hide and seek. However, their version of the game involved Eli chasing Finn while shouting/counting to 10. So technically the game should have been called “Seek and shriek.” Once Eli caught Finn he would shove Eli to the ground.
Thirdly, and most importantly, Finn taught Eli how to use his cuteness to get stuff. Next door to the rock park sits one of Evanston’s firehouses. The doors were thrown open and the young Firepeople were doing whatever it is they do in the minutes between rushing off to the daily bong-related fires at the Northwestern campus.
Finn and Eli began the cutest loitering on the planet in the hopes they’d be able to get inside the “Firetruck house.” It was a little sickening watching them turn on the charm. They were practically holding hands and singing “Edelweiss.”
Eventually, the Firemen and Firewomen succumbed to the cuteness and invited us inside. I practically knocked the boys over in my rush to see the big red shiny things. The head Firewoman presented the boys with two plastic fire helmets. I immediately thrust Eli’s on my head. “He…doesn’t like hats,” I lied. While I peppered the Firewoman with questions like, “What does this button do?” the boys got the thrill of sitting behind the wheel of the big rig.
The Firepeople began giving us hints that it was time to go. Hints like throwing unopened beers into the yard and shutting the door when Steve and I ran after them. So I scooped up Eli and took him home where we tried to explain what we just saw.
“Tell mommy where we were!”
“What kind of trucks did you just see?”