Tuesday, January 31, 2012
Pre-children, Diana and I went to the western suburbs to see Neil Young play his guitar. He was on tour with some new, experimental (i.e. crappy) stuff, but I was happy to simply be in his presence.
Other people in the crowd weren’t so happy. Midway through the set, a fan started calling out, “Play ‘Heart of Gold!” Come on! Play ‘Heart of Gold!’” The request was so incessant that at one point Neil stopped playing and shouted, “Shut the f*ck up!”
It has to be irritating to be asked to play the same thing every day of your life. Almost as irritating as being asked to do the “Punching Deer” routine every day of your life.
It all started innocently enough. Luca has been struggling with an intense desire to hit. I decided to give him a lesson the evils of hitting, a parable if you will. I stood in the boys’ room having a conversation with a little stuffed deer.
Midway through my convo, I puppeteered the deer’s hoof into my face. Repeatedly. I then had a frank discussion with the deer about how hitting is bad and he not only hurt my face, but he hurt my feelings.
I directed my gaze to Elijah and Luca do see if my message had sunk in. Both of them were rolling on the floor, laughing. Tears were literally streaming down Eli’s face. In his mind, a stuffed deer hitting his father was the funniest thing ever to happen in his 4 years on the Earth.
He begged me to do it again. The deer parable turned into “The Three Stooges.” I was happy to oblige, because I love an easy audience. For Elijah, it never got old.
And that’s where the trouble began. It never got old. Elijah asks for the “Punching Deer” every minute of every day.
He asks for it while Diana and I are trying to have our one adult conversation a day. He asks for it while I’m pretending to understand what the contractor is saying. He asked for it at my Dad’s house this weekend, 100 miles away from the stuffed deer. He asked for it in the middle of the night after a nightmare.
I gotta find a new funniest thing in the world. I’m currently testing out a stuffed monkey scissor kick routine.
Monday, January 30, 2012
Our baby doctor is pretty great. She’s built an entire career on the LVD method of doctoring.
L – Listen to parents’ crazy panic about nothing. “Doctor Doctor! Luca is obsessed with his pacifier. Does this mean he’ll be a drug addict when he gets older? We read on the internet that pacifiers are a gateway drug. Should we put him on Methadone just in case?
V – Validate their insane ramblings. “Well, I can understand why you are concerned. Maybe you stop standing on my examination table.”
D – Dismiss as gently as possible. “Eventually, Luca will become embarrassed at being the only kid in his Fraternity who still chews a pacifier, but if you’re freaked out, take it away from him.”
We’ve opted for the passive aggressive version of weaning him off pacifiers. Namely, we are not replacing them when they go missing. What was once a luxurious pile of plastic nipples has dwindled into one lone yellow paci.
Even though we haven’t informed Luca of our plan, he seems to know he’s down to his last pacifier. Every morning, he wakes in a panic. Over the baby monitor, I can hear him manically searching his crib. “Paci? Paci? Where is my paci?”
He flat out refuses to take it out his mouth. Which has turned his speech into a cigar chomping W.C. Fields. “Ni nant nan ilk, nease.” Thankfully, Elijah is fluent in Paciese.
“He said, ‘I want a milk, please.’ Sheesh.”
Last night, I extracted the yellow paci from his surprisingly strong grip with the intention of rinsing it off for the first time in a month. As I held it under the tap, I noticed just how horrifyingly disgusting it was. A thin layer of filth fell away like a moulting lizard.
I looked from the garbage can to my beautiful sun. He looked pleadingly into my eyes, knowing what was about to happen.
I popped the paci back into his mouth and hoped his fraternity brother would be kind.
Thursday, January 26, 2012
Sorry gang, I’ve been a parenting blogger slacker due to some heavy workloads this week. Which also makes me a parenting slacker. But I’m back, baby!
Let’s back the documentation of my childrens’ lives to last Friday. During the big Chicago snowstorm (“Snowpocalypse!” “Snowmaggedan” “Thundersnow!”) I rode the El home with Callie and Liddie’s mom. Callie and Liddie, as you recall, are the little girls who Elijah declared he loves more than me.
Callie and Liddie’s mom suggested we all go sledding Saturday after the Snowtaclysm. I’ll admit, I almost declined because, well, Eli loves Callie and Liddie more than me and I am a petty, petty man.
But Callie and Liddie are too cute to pass up. As everybody (mostly Elijah) knows.
We bundled the boys up the next morning and headed to “Lovelace Park.” As I pulled into the parking lot I became the one billionth dad to think, “Hey wasn’t there a 70’s porno actress named Something ‘Lovelace?’”
The famous Porno Hill was jammed with kids. As we trudged up the hill with Elijah’s brand new blue sled, I watched as child after child slammed into each other’s shins at top speed, causing that ass over teakettle action that’s only awesome on the NFL.
I positioned Eli on my lap for Run Number One. As we glided down the hill, I realized very quickly that underneath the layer of snow we were riding was a thick layer of ice. Clearly the custodians of Porno Hill had hosed down the entire joint right before snowfall.
We immediately reached break neck speed and I put the brakes on. By “Brakes” I mean “Digging my giant boots into the ground.” This caused snow to rooster tail high into the air. And directly into Elijah’s face.
Snow + Face = Cry.
The only thing that kept us on Porno Hill was Callie and Liddie’s presence and the promise that cousin Finn was joining us.
The rest of the day was filled with gleeful trudging, snowy faces and the occasional backbreaking slip on the ice.
The Most Reckless Award goes to a tie: Rory and Luca.
Sunday, January 22, 2012
I overuse the word “Dude.” It’s my all purpose address to anyone under the age of 12. It also gives me the cool cadence of Jeff Bridges from “The Big Lebowski,” or at least Aerosmith circa 1987. And it prevents that embarrassing stumble of names when you try to address a child.
“Put down that butcher knife, FinnRoryLucaJeffChuckBarack…Elijah!”
I don’t have really have any good reason to argue against my sons or their cousins adopting a little slang of their own. So why does the word “Freaky” sound like nails on a chalkboard mixed with Styrofoam squeak?
I can place 100% of the blame for the invasion of Freaky on the narrow little shoulders of my nephew Finn. A few Sundays ago, he strolled into our house armed with a new Lego toy and armed with…the word.
He waited until his coat was almost off his back before he unleashed it.
“That’s freaky,” he said to no one or nothing in particular.
Elijah and Luca perked up their ears like a dog who heard a box of treats being opened across the kitchen. The word quickly rose to the top of the charts.
“Don’t be freaky. That sounds freaky. He she it is freaky. Luca freakied in his diaper. This milk tastes freaky. I have a freaky stuck under my fingernail. I freakied in the freakiest freaky that ever freakied.”
I asked Finn, “What does ‘Freaky’ mean? Is it a good thing or a bad thing?”
He responded, “It just means ‘Freaky.’”
Since I couldn’t beat my nephew, I thought about punching my brother. But he works out now and is much stronger than me.
Diana and I have tried to outlaw the word in our house. “No Freaky talk,” we announce after every 1,000 times it’s uttered. In fact, I’ve tried to encourage poopy talk to get them off the word.
We took the crew sledding yesterday to a hill so crammed with kids you had to wait behind three rows for the chance to cry after getting snow in your face. Once in a crowd of kids, Elijah said, “This hill is freaky.” The children looked at him like he just invented fire.
I mouthed, “I am so sorry” to the other parents.
Monday, January 16, 2012
The Internet Movie Database describes “Terror Night” in this way:
“Lance Hayward, a silent movie star, appears as various characters, killing quite a handful of unfortunates, using various weapons.”
I describe “Terror Night” in this way:
“Luca Hamann, devastatingly cute two year old, keeps his father awake all night using various screaming.”
Friday night, I was so exhausted from Luca’s ongoing night terrors that I did the unthinkable: I cancelled beer night with my brother.
Diana was doubly exhausted because she had to deal with a shattered Luca all day, including an epic night terror nap. She suggested I deal with Luca that night and I’d be allowed to sleep as long as I wanted the next morning. Knowing it was a trap, I was too tired to resist. So I said yes.
Luca’s first night terror occurred at precisely 9pm. And then erupted every hour on the hour. He would stand in his crib, completely asleep and scream at the top of his lungs. No, check that. He would scream at the top of Mount Everest.
I found the only way to calm him down was to carry him around. This didn’t turn out to be a viable long term solution, as I lack upper body strength.
So I tried another tact. I carried him downstairs and laid down on the couch, placing him on my chest. He gathered my chest hair into a makeshift pillow and fell immediately to sleep.
I thought I may actually get some sleep. Until I realized Luca’s version of sleep involves attempting to hurl himself off whatever he is sleeping on. I spent the next 6 or so hours catching Luca in midair as he leapt, rolled, and double gainered off the couch.
I honestly have no memory of when Diana came down in the morning and took over. But somehow I made it back upstairs to our bed.
On a positive note, Luca’s war on sleep ended Saturday night and he seems to be past his terrors. Diana has again promised never to leave again.
p.s. Today's photo is completely different than the last post. Luca's eyes are closed and you can see Diana's chin.
Friday, January 13, 2012
When I leave town for business, the boys barely notice. While staring at the TV, they’ll wave a limp hand as I leave. And when I come back, they’ll excitedly call my name for exactly three seconds before returning to their constant drone of “Mommy? Mommy? Mommy? Mommy?”
But when Diana leaves town? Terrible things happen.
Diana had to fly to Philadelphia to take a big wine test (I’ve decided to no longer accompany these kind of statements with a cheap drunk joke). And while they were in the very capable hands of our awesome sitter, Hanna, things got a little sideways.
Elijah stuck his tongue out at his teacher at school. And infraction so strange and rare, no one knew what to do about it. I honestly think he surprised himself by doing it, because he spent the rest of the evening in a stupor, occasionally crying.
Luca seemed to do a bit better. He was clingy and whiney and constantly wanted to be held, but I took advantage of it because I like holding the little poop maker.
When Diana got home the other night, it was as if (insert your favorite female celebrity) strolled into our house. The boys literally fought over who could climb on her.
After they finally went to bed, Diana and I sat down to some wine so she could tell me how smart she is. From upstairs, we heard a bloodcurdling scream. Luca was shrieking in terror.
When we arrived at his crib, he was dazed and totally out of it, but howling as loud as I’ve ever heard. Diana and I looked at each other and said, “Night terrors.”
For those of you who forgot, night terrors is this weird thing where kids will scream in their sleep. It’s super scary and weird and I thought we’d skip this phase with Luca, given his mellowness.
But he got it full on. Every half hour, throughout the night, he would stand in his crib, totally asleep, and scream bloody murder. We’d hold him and rock him and calm him down, only to get back up ½ later to the same terror.
At about 4am, Diana went downstairs to look up night terrors on the internet. It turns out, one of the causes of night terrors is emotional distress. Emotional distress like your favorite person in the world leaving to take a big fancy wine test (glug glug glug – I couldn’t help myself).
Diana was filled with guilt that she caused this poor sweet little boy to cry out like he was being jammed under the fingernails with Star Wars guy guns. But I wonder if a small part of her is secretly happy her absence could cause this kind of disaster.
p.s. This is Luca’s impersonation of Tim, our contractor. It's dead on.
Monday, January 9, 2012
Yesterday, I had a pretty great day with the boys. Diana was studying and we were pretty trapped in the house. But there was one point where we were watching Star Wars on TV and playing Star Wars guys on the couch and I thought to myself, “This is the greatest moment of my life.” And I was fairly sure Elijah and Luca were feeling the same thing.
About an hour later, I was leaning up against the counter while they both wolfed down a dinner I neither microwaved not purchased from McDonalds. There was even corn involved!
Elijah looked up from his plate (he was shirtless of you need more of a mental picture) and said, “Hey dad!”
I smiled and said, “What, honey?”
“Do you know who I like more than you? I like mommy first. Then Callie. Then Liddie. Then you.”
I was crestfallen. My relationship with Eli has always been being in love with someone who was in love with someone else. But I was under the assumption that I was second on his list. Not stuck in 4th place behind the two cute girls in his class.
Yes. He is 4 years old. Yes, he didn’t mean anything by it and probably didn’t understand what he was saying. And yes, I should take these little things in stride. But I began to babble uncontrollably.
“What’s so great about Callie and Liddie? You aren’t 4th on my love list. You’re tied for first! FIRST! I made you corn, for crying out loud.”
I also found myself getting a little desperate to boot, “What can I do to get out of 4th place? How can I knock Callie and Liddie out? A smear campaign?”
Elijah thought for a second and said, “Maybe if you buy me two big Star Wars ships and then a couple guys.”
Fine. Great. Done.
Later that night Elijah asked if he could take a shower instead of a bath. Because it’s way more fun.
I said, “Only if you put me ahead of Callie and Liddie on your love list.”
Ever the politician, he said, “I like you the same as Callie and Liddie.”
I relayed this story to Diana a while later and she said, “Whelp, at least you'll get a blog post out of it.”
Saturday, January 7, 2012
In a babysitting trade last week, Diana was watching cousin Finn and cousin Rory along with Elijah and Luca. The best way to accomplish this is to position yourself in a door frame or a bathtub with a heavy book over your head. Once the air raid sirens cease, it is safe to exit your home and look for the nearest State Farm representative.
Pam arrived to pick up her kids late in the afternoon. In my mind’s eye, I can picture what our house looked like. Every inch of the floor was covered in molded plastic. Each step through the house included that familiar “crunch” of action figure accessory embedding itself into your foot flesh. In other words, Diana’s personal hell.
To make matters worse, there was an extra flurry of worker activity on our basement. Cigarettes being extracted from packs. Cigarettes being lit. Cigarettes being inhaled.
As Finn and Rory put on their coats, Diana looked around. Where’s Luca? Oh that silly boy must be hiding. Diana did a quick scan of the usual hiding places. Behind the chair. In the closet. Under the table.
Nope. No luck.
Diana help up the cousins and asked them to help search. Cries of “Luca!” filled the house as the kids searched.
Nope. No luck.
This is where the flicker of panic set in. Where was he? The shouts got a little more urgent and the hunt a little more desperate. Diana looked in rarer, non Luca places. In the basement work zone. In the backyard. Up and down the street.
Nope. No luck.
Panic fully set in. The search became wild and erratic. Places a 2 year old can’t even fit. Open the toilet lid. Peer into the freezer. Behind radiators. Thoughts of calling 911 entered her mind.
Suddenly, Elijah called out. Luca was found. Diana followed Eli’s voice upstairs. Luca had crawled into an almost completely inaccessible crawlspace behind his crib. He had entered there with his blankie and his pacifier to take a nap and escape the chaos.
Diana was stuck with an intense desire to join him.
Tuesday, January 3, 2012
You know those movies where the kid and the parent both say “I wish I had your life” while peeing in a magic toilet and they switch bodies? We had the HamannEggs version over Christmas break. But with Diana and me.
My company gives us the week off between Christmas and New Years to make up for the awful coffee in the break room. Coincidentally or not coincidentally, Diana had to spend the entire week out of the house working at her new job and studying for a big wine test (I am currently pantomiming Diana chugging from a bottle).
So for the week I was the mommy and she was the daddy. I looked forward to the test. Partly because I love my sons and wanted to spend some quality time with them. But mostly to prove to Diana that being the one who takes care of the boys all day wasn’t as hard as she says and she should stop whining.
Day One I will refer to as “Superdad Day.” I was on fire. I cleaned the house. Occupied the boys without the use of television and fed them nutritious meals that included everything in the Government Food Pyramid or the Government Food Sphinx or whatever it’s called.
By the time Diana got home, the boys were ready for bed in matching PJs with their hair combed and fingernails buffed to glowing. I also believe they were knitting coats for the poor.
I leaned against the door with a look that said, “Gee. This parenting gig ain’t so hard.” It also said, “Gee. I am a passive aggressive jerk.”
Day Two through Day Seven I will refer to as “A Complete and Utter Disaster.” I quickly realized that full time parenting itself is not difficult. Parenting all day every day with no break to even go to the bathroom is where things begin to break down.
I don’t think Luca or Elijah actually changed clothes for the entire week. What clothes they did have on were caked in, well, cake. Because I lost the ability to make food. I’m fairly sure Luca’s diaper was on fire at one point. But I’m not sure since he was hiding in my closet most of the time. Elijah acquired a conk shell and proclaimed himself King Of The House. He was a benevolent ruler so long as “My Little Pony” was on TV constantly.
And this is no joke, we had to have our babysitter come yesterday to give me a break.