Friday, April 29, 2011
Until this year, Christmas and Easter and Birthdays with the boys have been for Diana and my benefit. Kids under 4 don’t really understand the magic of religion and its brother, present getting. But this year Elijah was all jacked up about eggs and plastic grass and JELLY BEANS! Oh, and the icon of Christianity.
I arrived back from a quick trip to Whole Foods to discover that Diana and Eli had already colored the eggs I spend the majority of the day preparing (According to the internet, you need boiling water and eggs). I whined and stomped for a while and demanded I be in attendance for any and all Easter related cuteness from now on.
The next morning I awoke from a coveted sleep in to find the Easter baskets demolished. My blood boiled at the idea of me not being in attendance, but I thought about what Jesus would do if his kids and wife never listened to him. It brought up too many theological questions, so I just shoved a fist full of jelly beans in my mouth.
Eli embarked on a day long jelly bean binge. Luca, on the other hand, couldn’t quite decide if he liked them. He’d toddle up every five minutes shouting, “Bean! Bean!” But after two or three chews, he’d spit it out onto the floor. I spent a lot of the day picking chewed beans out of my toes.
Eventually, we packed up the boys and went to another Easter Egg hunt. This one at our friends The Goodriches neighbor’s house. He was a preacher of some unknown denomination. I geared up for some good old fashioned religion. But like the Denver church that sponsored our last egg hunt, he never mentioned JC once. In fact, had I not known he was a cloth man, I would’ve thought he was just a dude. I wondered if this still counted as going to church. I decided yes.
Anyhoo, after an hour or so of trying to prevent Luca from eating peanut butter snacks, I was summoned to the front yard. The Dads were in charge of hiding the eggs.
This was my first real dad bonding experience. Most of my pals who are dads were my pals way before they were dads. So we have way more in common than poopy d’s. Well, mostly Star Wars in common. But this was my first time seeing a bunch of dads from vastly different backgrounds thrown together in Dad-ness.
It was pretty great. We swore. We spit. We hid eggs in dangerous places like car exhausts and rose bushes and on top of the house. We pretended we didn’t want our son to get the most eggs.
The mayhem of egg finding ensued and we dads went back to the shelter of our wives.
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
I spent an inordinate amount of time trying to get Elijah to understand Easter on Saturday. Here is a typical exchange:
“Hey Eli. ‘Member when we talked about Easter five minutes ago? ‘Member? ‘Member God? And his son? The guy who Easter is all about? Who is God’s son? What’s his name?”
“The Easter Bunny!”
The sullen, tattooed barista at “Washington Perk” informed me that, “There’s gonna be, like, a million billion kids hunting for Easter eggs at Washington Park. It’s gonna be horrible.”
That sounded like a lovely way to spend a Saturday.
The New Denver Church, whose motto must have been, “We’re not going to get all churchy on you,” set up a massive egg hunt in a field just between the playgrounds. There was a huge roped off area, with delightfully pink police tape. Inside was 15,000, count ‘em, 15,000 Easter Eggs. There were literally hundreds and hundreds of kids milling around outside the tape, unaware they outnumbered the people keeping them away from candy 50 to 1.
I searched in vain for some kind of religious metaphor at play. Maybe the police tape was our sin and the…aw forget it. Let’s get some candy.
I found myself feeling that unfamiliar projection of competition growing in my bowels. I strangely needed Elijah to grab the most eggs in the history of the world. I decided to allow that feeling to manifest itself when he was in Little League, so I choose to accompany Luca on the hunt.
The announcer blared his 100th non-religious announcement over the loud speaker and we were ready to rock (Did, “We have a lost child over by the jungle gym” mean we were going to burn in hell?). The hundreds of kids suddenly grew very quiet.
Ready, set go and there was roughly 24 seconds of massive pandemonium. I lost track of Eli and Diana in the sea of arms, legs and plastic.
Luca toddled around the mayhem, occasionally pointing to an egg and saying, “Egg!” before a kid would swoop in screaming.
After the dust settled, I found Di and Eli. He had acquired three eggs. He was very proud of himself and I was very proud of him. But I was mostly proud he didn’t get trampled.
Suddenly, a 5 year old little girl came up to us. She asked very politely if Luca wanted one of her eggs because he didn’t have any. Now why on Earth did this bring tears to my eyes? What is wrong with me? I sniffed and said thank you to the little girl. And then cursed myself for being such a sissy.
She handed Luca an egg and he said, “Egg.”
And then the sugar rush began. More on that later.
Tuesday, April 19, 2011
Can we just establish once and for all that Kitty is beautiful and talented and really funny? And her allowing of us to squat in her Colorado cabin is the greatest thing to ever happen in the world?
But let’s back it up to a few weeks ago. My Chicago Pal, Mike Ronkoske, won the “Spend The Weekend With The Characters of ‘HamannEggs’” contest. We spent a lot of that weekend on snow covered mountains and in bars and generally abandoning Diana to take care of the boys.
To make it up to her, I offered to be in 100% charge of the boys while we went to Kitty’s cabin. That way she could have fun with Kitty, but still be close enough to see the boys dismantle my brain.
Said dismantling occurred between the hours of 1-5am Saturday night.
Luca is not a terrible sleeper. But he is particular. He demands complete silence and darkness. His bare feet need to be exposed and he must have 3 pacifiers within arms reach. He must have his rotten Curious George next to his body and his blankey has to be gently draped over his face. He has to have a white noise machine cranked and his crib bumper must be present.
None of these things were available at Kitty’s. I’ll take responsibility for 99% of it. I’m a terrible packer. Elijah arrived with one pair of underpants to last him all weekend.
Anyway, Luca spent the hours of 10pm-midnight in his empty Pack ‘N Play screaming, ‘MOOOMMMMMYYYY!” over and over. Eventually, Diana left to go sleep in one of the other 50 rooms in the cabin. I opted to stay and silently curse myself for agreeing to be in charge.
Eventually, I scooped the screamer up and put him into bed with me. Knowing he just won the lottery, he quieted down and fell asleep. Over the next several hours, I learned this about my son: he is an active sleeper. He kicks. He flails his arms. He squirms around like a worm. At one point, he sat up straight and brought his forehead down on my nose with blow so savage, the room lit up like it was midday.
Oh, and did I mention Elijah joined us? At 2 or 3am, he climbed into bed and I protested, “There are plenty of other beds IN THIS ROOM you can sleep in.” Eli responded with one of his deep sleep cries of terror.
So for the rest of the night Jimmy Legs Luca and Screaming Eli battled it out for who would cause me to smother myself with a flannel pillow.
And yet, the still managed to both wake up, happy and clams at 6am demanding to watch Kitty’s ancient VHS copy of “Charlotte’s Web.”
Monday, April 18, 2011
The family went to (the beautiful and talented) Kitty’s cabin this weekend. However, Diana and Kitty went up a day earlier than me and the boys. So Diana could, you know, not be around the boys for one minute.
I took the day off and decided to surprise them with a trip to the zoo. While we were in the car, I had Eli to ask me questions about where we were going.
“What color is it?”
“Lots of colors. Guess again.”
“What color is it?”
“No, it really isn’t a color thing. Here. I’ll give you a hint. There are both fur and scales there.”
“What color is it?”
“We’re going to the zoo.”
The boys loved the zoo. How can you not love a place with so many different kinds of poop? Eventually, we needed to make the complicated trip to the bathroom. I happened to select the smallest bathroom at the zoo, over by the bird area. I had to cram our giant stroller into one of those one stall/one toilet/one sink joints.
The bathroom was occupied by some volunteers, who were helping some fairly severely handicapped people do their business.
“Why is that guy in a chair?” Elijah said so loudly it disturbed the neighboring bird cage. The room suddenly got significantly more claustrophobic.
I got intensely into Eli’s face. I mentally told him to shut up for the love of all that’s holy.
“Some people use a chair to get around. Just like Luca in his stroller. But it’s not a big deal…”
“I don’t like him. He looks silly!”
I immediately grabbed Eli by the waist, mid-pee, and dragged him out the door while pushing Luca’s stroller with my foot.
We found a bench nearby and I sat him down.
“Now, Eli. I need you to listen to me very carefully. This is important. There are some people in the world who were born differently than us. Some people need extra help with wheel chairs. Or some of them look a little different. But that doesn’t make them any better or worse than we are. And we should never, EVER, say things like they look silly. That is not nice. Do you understand?”
“But he looked silly!”
“That’s what I’m talking about. I don’t want you saying mean things about people who are different.”
After me making him repeat “I will never say mean things about people who are different” a hundred times, he realized the only way he was going to get to go on the carousel was to learn a life lesson.
p.s. This photo is why we moved to Colorado.
Thursday, April 14, 2011
This morning, I awoke to Elijah shout/whispering in the other room, “Daaad! I have a diaper full of pee pee and some of the pee pee came out over the top and now it’s all wet in here!”
After shushing him and threatening his life if he woke Diana or Luca up, I hugged him and said, “Happy Birthday, Eli. I love you very much.”
“Can I watch TV?”
As I hit the “on” button, I recalled Eli’s birthday party from last Sunday. We had all of ours and Eli’s friends over for Star Wars cake and what passes for pizza in Denver.
An unrelated side note, one of our appetizers was little cocktail weenies. Luca observed a plate full and clearly said, “Penis.”
Where was I? Oh, Eli. This was the first birthday where he understood what was going on. People were presenting him with gifts he had asked for. Not onsies or puffy books or socks. He got a helicopter, a Darth Vader costume and lightsaber, an Iron Man thing that shoots stuff to poke your eye out.
As he viciously dug into some dinosaur related thing, I found myself getting choked up. I actually had force myself to keep from bursting into tears.
What the hell is wrong with me, I thought. Was I jealous of his awesome presents? Possibly. They were pretty awesome. But that couldn’t be it. I could just take them from him if I wanted to play with him.
I think it was the same thing that always chokes me up. I love that kid. It’s been four years of the greatest moment of my life, over and over again. Those of you with kids you like know what I’m stumbling around trying to say.
So I’ll just say it to Eli.
Happy birthday, son. You have brought me more happiness in four short years than I ever thought possible. I love you. I love your mop of blond hair. I love your big, hilarious brain. I love your tip toed running. I love your obsession with all things with screens. I love your made up stories. I love your constant injuries. I love your constant wet pants. I love your laugh. I love your ice cold feet.
You’ll always be my best pal.
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
The only issue with forcing Elijah to watch Star Wars over and over like that kid from “A Clockwork Orange” is he’s probably been exposed to more death and dismemberment than a one-day-away-from 4 year old should.
And the whole death thing has been creeping into his vocabulary more than I like. He will shoot me with his tiny finger and shout, “I killed you, daddy!” I have to reprimand him about using the word “killed.” I say, “Don’t say ‘killed,’ that’s not nice. Say, ‘mortally injured.’”
The other day, Diana asked Eli if he had ever heard of God. He wasn’t quite sure of the concept, despite my prayer over the dead bird last summer.
Diana took it upon herself to explain the Man Upstairs.
“Well, God is this really great guy who lives up in the clouds and he watches over us, a lot like Santa Claus. And when you die, you get to see him.”
Big mistake. Elijah’s eyes filled with tears.
“I’M GOING TO DIE???????”
At this point, I imagine Diana donning a top hat and cane and tap dancing like Fred Astaire.
“Well, everybody dies…but it’s really great because you get to see your family and…”
“EVERYBODY DIES???? DADA DIES? GRANDMA SHEILA DIES? YOU DIE?”
This is where the story fizzles out. I think she distracted him with promises of birthday cupcakes and Star Wars killings.
I wonder if it made a lasting impact on him. Mostly when I have to comfort him at 4am when he’s screaming out in terror.
p.s. This is Elijah’s birthday present from my dad. I have never been so jealous of a 4 year old,
Friday, April 8, 2011
Every morning, I make up with the boys. And by “wake up,” I mean, “shove milk into their hands, turn on the TV and collapse onto the daybed.” But eventually, I have to transition from my awful parenting to Diana’s more effective parenting.
I simply say the magic words, “Let’s go wake up mommy,” and the boys spring into crazy action. They both race across the room screaming, “MOMMY MOMMY MOMMY!” And then they burst into where Diana peacefully sleeps. She barely has enough time to moan, “Nooooo,” before they leap onto her, usually smashing her tender bits.
Eli usually stays for 35 seconds until he realizes there is no TV in our room. Luca lingers longer so he can get his Loton. He repeats, “Loton…loton…loton” over and over until Diana squirts some hand lotion into his little hand.
For a while, he would immediately cram the lotion into his mouth. G-r-o-s-s. So Diana has been training him over the last few months to rub his hands together instead of poisoning himself. She smooshes his hands together and says, “Together together together” over and over. He got the hint and now says, “Gether gether gether,” a little too creepily for my tastes.
The other night, however, Diana was chasing both boys during the post bath Naked Crazies. She lost track of Luca while dealing with whatever trauma Elijah had self inflicted and she heard him say, “Gether gether gether.”
Knowing all lotions were out of baby reach, she knew something was up and raced around to find him. She found him crouched over a pile of doo doo. He was rubbing his hands together.
What was on his hands was not lotion.
Thursday, April 7, 2011
Elijah doesn’t love his Denver preschool. I think it’s partly because he feels guilty that his daddy has to shell out $600 a month so he can play with blocks. But Diana and I think it’s because he isn’t the King of The School, like he was in Evanston.
When we dropped him off in Illinois, the cry of “ELI!” would ring out. There’d be a fight for the chance to be the first to kiss his ring. Then they’d hoist him on their shoulders and shower him with cookies and Star Wars chocking hazards. And that was the teachers.
Now, when we drop him off, there’s a cry of, “Meh…” Eli usually just slumps into a tiny red chair in the corner and sighs.
The saddest part is Eli now tries to get out of going to school. He used to fake being sick and fake injuries. But now he’s taken to being fake bullied.
A few weeks ago, we asked him how school was and he said, “Maxine hit me and kicked me!”
My first response was, “Ew. A girl beat you up? What’s wrong with you? Um, I mean, it’s okay that a girl beat you up.”
He said, “Maxime is a boy.”
“Oh, MaxIME. That’s somehow better.”
I resisted the urge to buy him boxing gloves or engage in some other half assed sitcom self defense and gave him some “just ignore him” platitudes.
But the attacks persisted and increased in violence. “Maxime kicked and bit me. Maxime broke a chair over my head. Maxime stabbed me with a shiv honed from a toothbrush.”
Diana finally confronted his teachers, who we assumed were too jacked on Denver Medical Marijuana to notice the daily beatings.
They responded that there had been zero incidences between Maxime and Eli.
So we simply listen now to the daily play by play of how Maxime abused him and say, “That sucks that Maxime broke your arm off and beat you with the bloody end of it.”
Monday, April 4, 2011
The story goes Diana’s older brother Donny was at a big, important soft drink conference a few years ago when he bit into a delicious, but nut-hiding desert. CUT to him an hour later being wheeled through the hotel lobby on a gurney, right past all the soft drink bigwigs. I imagine them twisting their waxed mustaches and laughing, “Mwoohahahahaha!” While they were punching kittens.
Well, we just found out Luca joined Donny’s ranks. He is officially allergic to peanuts.
Yeah. He’s that kid. The one who ruins school snacks and birthday parties and trips to Thail buffets.
We’d been noticing Luca was getting a little rash any time he ate peanut butter. Our Evanston doctor shrugged it off, but our Denver doctor thought it was alarmed.
Turns out they were both kind of right. Luca is allergic to the thing that makes both beer and chocolate taste better, but not THAT allergic. The doc said he may grow out of it and if he ate a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup he’d most likely just throw up. Throw up deliciousness.
He did recommend we remove all the peanuts from the house and get an emergency allergy injector thing. Which is by far the coolest part.
Let me be clear. I hope I never have to use it. But if I did, it would be just like that scene in Pulp Fiction where John Travolta injects that big headed lady with adrenaline. But without all the Heroin.
Elijah, in his bid to maintain his status as center of all attention, announced that he was also, in fact, allergic to peanuts. That’s good, because he’s got quite a few sunflower seed butter and jelly sandwiches in his future.