Sunday, July 31, 2011
Our number one goal when Diana’s mom passed away was to get Diana to Illinois as soon as humanly possible. My boss, one of the few of the breed with an actual functioning heart, immediately gave me time off from work to be with Elijah and Luca while we prepared for our own trip.
I dropped Eli off at “Dinosaur Camp,” where they teach you how to take a beating from jocks in high school.
Then Luca and I drove around Denver trying to locate Grover’s doggy boarding place, which was both more luxurious and more expensive than the hotel we booked in Illinois. At one point, I realized I was on the exact wrong side of the city than “City Bark.” I slammed my fist on the steering wheel, expressing several emotions of the day, and shouted, “DAMN IT!”
From just behind me I heard a little gleeful voice chirp, “Damn it damn it damn it damn it…”
Later that evening, I slipped into our bed, exhausted from surviving the stuff Diana does every day of the week. Elijah was sleeping in there. His bonus for Diana being out of town.
I watched him breathe, hair splayed at impossible angles and was overcome with love for him. I smoothed his hair away from his forehead and he moaned, pathetically.
Trying to comfort him, I put my hand on his chest to let him know he was safe. He thrashed his hands out, defensively.
He was having a nightmare. I moved my hand to his, and gently squeezed. You’re okay. You’re okay. He cried out in terror.
Then a little voice in my head said, “It’s you that’s causing his nightmare, you idiot.”
Oh, yeah. My fingers in his hair must have felt like a giant spider laying eggs on his head. My hand must have felt like a goblin sitting on his chest. And my hand in his must have felt like, um, the soft hands of a man who has never worked a day in his life. Aaargh!
Thursday, July 28, 2011
Luca, Elijah and I entered the airplane that would take us to meet their mommy in Chicago and I hoisted the carseat up, rendering both my boys invisible to me. After much cat wrangling, I found our row and discovered that our seats were the center three in a five seat row. Which meant one unlucky traveler on either side of us.
Next to Elijah was a guy clearly suffering from a massive hangover. He begged the flight attendant for aspirin while Eli discovered the joys of flicking the overhead light on and off. Next to Luca, a traveling salesman who was desperate to talk to anyone. Luckily, he got to spend two hours listening to a constant refrain of, “Airplane! Right there!” and “Thomas! Train!”
I hunkered down, realizing I was essentially trapped.
As we taxied, Elijah shouted, “Daddy! I have to pee pee!” I thanked my lucky foresight to clad Eli in diapers.
“Let it flow, buddy. Let. It. Flow.”
Eli thrust out his hips and made that face Steve Martin made when he played Ruprecht in the film “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.”
For the next two hours Luca slept and Eli watched DVDs, drank apple juice and urinated in his diaper constantly.
We landed at O’Hare after ten minutes of Luca shouting, “What’s Dat?” and me whispering, “The landing gear.”
Once the bell dinged twice, Eli unbuckled his seatbelt and stood to stretch. I looked over and gasped. Eli’s diaper must have reached saturation somewhere over Iowa. His seat was completely soaked.
And yet, I somehow found it logical to become angry with Eli.
“Look what you did!”
“You told me I could pee pee!”
“No I didn’t.” I was now a liar and a bad parent.
I sat him back down in his seat to cover the now stinking evidence. I had to plan our escape.
I waited until the plane had almost entirely emptied and then I made our move.
“Go! Go! Go!” I shouted and shoved them into the aisle. The boys were so excited by my urgency that they ran at top speed and I began to lose track of them.
“Freeze!” I shouted. They took this as a message to run faster.
Luckily, a flight attendant stepped into the aisle to run interference.
“Please stop them,” I pleaded.
“Oh my, look at those blue eyes,” She said as she scooped Luca up.
She made a face and said, “Oh, this one is wet.”
I grinned and guided my two adorable Ruprechts onto the jet bridge.
Thursday, July 21, 2011
Diana’s mother Sheila passed away yesterday morning. After a five year fight against cancer, she finally let go. She was at peace and thankfully pain free.
This thing I write is about sons and fathers. But it’s about mothers, too. And there has never been a mother quite as wonderful as Sheila. In all the years I knew her, I never heard her say a negative thing. Ever. It just wasn’t in her nature. Even towards the end, when the disease had her firmly in its grasp, she couldn’t bring herself feel anything but completely alive.
Diana said it best, “The world is a decidedly less sparkly place without her.” She was right. There was something so…sparkly about Sheila. She was bright and funny. Gorgeous and kind. Sheila had a grace about her that seemed almost out of place today. When she burst into a room and chirped, “Bonjour!” you’d swear it was Audrey Hepburn handing you a glass of Champagne.
She leaves behind thousands of students who secretly wished she were their mother. And she leaves 5 kids who were lucky enough for it to be true.
Luca and Elijah both had the gift of saying goodbye to her when we visited last month. They were both sweet and beautiful and heartbreaking. Luca couldn’t possibly know the gravity of what was happening. And yet, he toddled over and grabbed her fragile hand dangling over the hospital bed. And he kissed it.
I’m going to take a short break from the blog while we head to Illinois for a few days. Do me a favor while you wait for us to get back to poops and summer camp. If you still have a mom who is alive, give her a call and tell her you love her.
Monday, July 18, 2011
I finally figured out what makes Luca angry. What turns our otherwise peace loving blue-eyed wonder into a raging lunatic: learning. He hates it. He bucks off your lap the minute you break out any 1-2-3 or A-B-C book. He’ll gladly tell you trees are green and fire trucks are red. Unless that is, of course, you ask him what color a tree or fire truck is. You’ll get a big pile ‘o nothing for that. Or if you’re lucky, a hissy fit.
Which brings me to yesterday. At 9:30am, we found ourselves in the parking lot of Denver’s Jewish Community Center readying our boys for swimming lessons. Nope. No JCC jokes. It’s awesome and kick ass. Case closed. Sorry, Anti Semites.
Elijah was fighting off a summer cold and was being kind of a pill. He was whining about not wanting to do swimming lessons and claiming he would cry as soon as he hit the water.
Diana asked him, “Do you want mommy or daddy to go to your lessons?”
I prayed, “Say mommy say mommy say mommy say mommy…”
He whined, “I want mommy.”
YES! I looked at Luca in the rearview mirror and imaged our awesome swim lesson. I imagined us playing Chicken with the other toddlers and parents. I imaged us doing back flips off the high dive. I imagined us politely refusing to rub suntan lotion on the other moms.
The very second we entered the pool, Luca began to cry. Huh? Wait. My swim fantasy did not include him crying. Luca spent the next 8 hours (it felt like 8 hours) flat out refusing to do anything the nice swim instructor asked. Kick your legs? Nope. Float on your back? Nu uh. Sing aqua related tunes? Pass. I looked with semi panic at the other toddlers retrieving bricks off the bottom of the pool, blindfolded
The only thing he did do was dunk his head under the water. Because I dunked his head under the water without his permission. The swim instructor seemed pleased with my attempted drowning of my son and let us go for the day.
Meanwhile, Elijah was gleefully swimming and singing and jack-knifing at the other end of the pool. Diana gave me the “thumbs up.” I held up a snotty, weeping Luca in response.
Thursday, July 14, 2011
After sleeping in the bitterly ironically named “Pleasure Way” for several nights, I was more than a little happy to cruise with the boys down to Peoria to visit my folks in Peoria.
They had quite a bit planned for us. Deer sausage eating. Jelly bean eating. Cousin Chasing. Chex Mix eating.
But I’ll admit I was most excited about sleeping in a non-van bed. Aside from actual sheets and pillows, my stepmom Connie puts bottled water on the bedside table like a fancy hotel. As someone who stays in fancy hotels semi frequently, I appreciate this small touch.
After a long day of snake fireworks and water balloons (my brother Luke nailed Steve’s son Finn in the face with a million to one shot), I threw Luca into my dad’s ancient crib and threw Elijah into the big hotel bed.
I whispered in his ear, “I’ll come back up and sleep with you after I deplete grandpa’s wine supply, honey.”
I sat with the adults and chit chatted and watched my favorite show, “Local Peoria News.” Eventually, Steve and Pam announced they were heading to bed. Seconds later, Steve came back to the room.
“Your boys are screaming.”
I ran upstairs and, sure enough, both Luca and Elijah were bawling their eyes out. I wasn’t surprised. If one goes, they both go. I started my consoling with Luca. Within seconds he was pacified with a pacifier and was out cold. Eli was still howling.
I went to the bed and picked him up. He was soaking wet. I placed my hand on the bed. Also soaking wet. And then I found the culprit. Eli had poured the entire contents of the fancy hotel water bottle all over the bed. The only part of the bed that wasn’t saturated was large enough for a four-year-old boy.
Which meant I suddenly became bed-less. My dad produced a sleeping bag and I unrolled it on the hardwood floor. I muttered, “It’s better than the ‘Pleasure Way,’” and attempted sleep.
A few seconds later I felt a tap on my shoulder. It was Eli.
“Dad. The bed’s wet. Can I sleep wif you?”
He immediately commandeered the sleeping bag and I was left with a college blanket and no pillow.
I longed for the Pleasure Way.
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
We were not the only ones who visited Diana’s parents over our vacation. Every single person with the Jacklich name decided to drop by Lisle at the same time. I think there was even a guy named “Jack Lick” there by mistake. But he didn’t turn down any beers.
It was glorious and hilarious and…crowded. Once all the kids emptied the nest, the Jacklich seniors downgraded to a tiny two bedroom house. After losing count of the attendees for the third time, I asked Diana where we’d be sleeping.
An RV loaned from a friend.
I lit up like a firecracker. I love RVs. Or rather the idea of RVs. The last time I slept in one was 20 or so years ago. I imagined one of those silver metal jobs with the cots that hang down from the ceiling and probably a hot tub.
Diana and her dad drove off to fetch that had become in my mind, Metallica’s touring bus.
She called me a while later.
“Um. About the RV. You and Eli are sleeping in it. Luca and I will be sleeping in the house.”
She could only mean the RV was so awesome that she wouldn’t be able to sleep. Or that Elijah and I were so good on the plane ride to Illinois that we deserved to have the hot tub all to ourselves.
Then they arrived.
Let me preface this by thanking the friends who let us stay in their vehicle. It was incredibly generous and kind of you and I am grateful. Seriously.
But it was a van. Not an RV. A van. Yes, it was a van that had a sink and a bed in the back. But it was a van. With the words “Pleasure Way” printed on the side. Pleasure. Way. Like, “If you want that special kind of 1970’s pleasure that can only occur in the back of a van, this way sir!”
Later that evening, Diana found us some blankets and pillows. I inquired about whether Di’s folks had rubber sheets. Nope. There was nothing between me and all the pleasure ground into the mattress.
Elijah loved it. I did not sleep well.
Monday, July 11, 2011
I think I’ve mentioned this before, but I do a fair amount of flying for business. And I like to think I have it down to a science. Or better yet, a series of rules that govern me from taxi to landing.
First, if it doesn’t fit into a carry-on, don’t bring it. Who needs underpants, life saving insulin and life saving hair gel? Not me and my three cubic inches of pack back!
Second, limit your pre-flight beers to 2. Bladders have a tendency to urgently need to “make” in that critical time between lift off and that double “ding” that indicated you may turn on portable electronic devices and shove your way to the lavatory.
Third, and this is the most important rule of all, never, ever allow Luca to leave his car seat. Now, I rarely have to refer to this rule, since 99.9999% of my flying is without my youngest son. But that doesn’t diminish the importance of this rule. In fact, every time I board a flight to California for a mindless series of meetings, I look at my seatmates and say, “Let’s just all make sure we don’t let Luca out of his car seat, shall we?” And then they hide behind their Sky Mall magazines.
When we all headed to Illinois last week, we knew it would be tough. But Diana had a lot more anxiety than me. She was worried our gleefully loud children would disturb our fellow passengers. But mostly she was afraid of Luca or Eli kicking the seats in front of them. I’m not sure why this was such a big deal for her. Maybe she was injured by a three year old on a flight to San Francisco. But she was determined to keep our boys’ feet away from the magazine racks and tray tables.
I, however, could give a crap. That’s flying folks. Sometimes you sit next to a super hot member of the opposite sex. Sometimes you spend 4 hours getting a lower back massage from tiny feet.
As soon as we sat down, Diana offered to buy our neighbors a glass of whisky to compensate for any seat kicking. They refused. But as soon as Luca shlumped back into his car seat, he thought to himself, “Heeeeeyyyy. This seat in front of me is the perfect distance for some kicking!” And he proceeded to kick and kick and kick.
The woman in front of him glared over the seat and Diana panicked. And broke rule #3. She let Luca out of his seat. And there was no getting him back. When the pilot announced we were diving into Cook Country, Illinois, he became a cat over a bathtub filled with ice cold water. I wondered if shoving him into the overhead compartment constituted child abuse.
Eventually we hit the tarmac while I held Luca in a bear hug. And then we began our adventure in Chicagoland. Or as I now like to call it, Humidityland.
Tuesday, July 5, 2011
Friday, July 1, 2011
A disclaimer. This post is about unintentional swearing. The swears have been changed to protect the innocent. But if you are a big fat baby and easily offended, f*cking forgive me.
I spent a few days out of town this week and had a flight home in which the pilot said over the intercom, “It could’ve been worse…” Worse being a fiery crash.
But I did manage to arrive home just before Luca’s bedtime. Diana handed him over and walked hopefully not out of the house forever. I dumped Luca onto the changing table and he looked at me ever so sweetly and said…
I said, “Uh, come again?”
“I’ll admit I’m no Rhodes Scholar, but let’s not stoop to name calling.”
“Dumb f*ck!” He was getting louder.
“Alright. Take it easy. You can’t speak to me like that.”
“Are you repeating something your mother said about me? I can’t be expected to remember to empty the dishwasher every day.”
“That’s it. We’re in a fight.”
I plopped him on the ground and slumped into the rocking chair, way more put out that I should have been.
“You know what? You’re the dumb f*ck! That’s right. What are you going to do about it?”
Luca was holding out his newest favorite book entitled, “Baby’s First Dump Truck Board Book.”
I put him on my lap and said, “I’m a dumb f*ck.”