Friday, March 30, 2012
We haven’t had a lot of firsts around here lately. But here’s a good one.
Down the block from us is a two flat dedicated to low income housing. It once boasted the honor of being the location of Evanston’s first murder in 10 years! But it’s really not that dangerous a place (I think the murderer lost his lease). There are just some folks down on their luck. A LOT of folks.
Whenever Grover escapes from our backyard to indulge in his wanderlust, he immediately bolts to this building. So every week or so, a gaggle of 5-10 girls will knock on our door to return our silly dog.
The other day, the gaggle was milling around outside our house and caught the attention of a naked Elijah.
He shouted through the window, “Hey! Hey girls! Do you want to play?”
They said yes, but I told them we’d have to do it another time, as it was bedtime and Eli was currently without clothes.
So yesterday, the gaggle returned to take Eli up on his offer. Diana, who knew nothing of the plan, said sure and led the 5-10 girls into the backyard to play.
After a while of playing, Diana could hear one of the girls say to Eli, “Ask your mom if we can play inside your house.”
Eli obliged and Diana reluctantly let the gaggle inside. Keeping track of two boys is hard enough. Adding in an uncountable crew of girls didn’t seem like that great of an idea.
At some point, a few of the gaggle peeled away upstairs to the boy’s room with cousin Rory. Oh yeah. My brother’s kids somehow got added to the equation.
In an effort to keep the now 500 kids on one floor, Diana walked upstairs. And found the gaggle emptying the contents of Eli’s piggy bank into their pockets. I shudder to think of the look on that dumb blue pig’s face as they violated him.
Diana simply said, “Out.”
And the gaggle complied.
Thursday, March 29, 2012
Yesterday, I received the awful cold that Elijah and Luca suffered from. Since I am a full week behind them in the illness, I know from observation the stages I’ll go through:
1. Sore throat mixed with general malaise.
2. Hacking Cough.
3. Coughing so hard you barf.
4. Calling out in the middle of the night, “Mommy! No! Not Daddy! Mommy!”
Luca is still stuck right in the middle of the Anger stage. Nothing, I mean, nothing can make this kid happy right now.
First, he’ll scream, “I want a milky!” And when said milky is heated and handed to him, he’ll shove it away and scream, “I don’t want a milky!” And when that milk is poured down the drain, he flops to the floor shrieking, “I want my milky!”
Everything is wrong and necessitates a screaming fit. Kind of like my first high school girlfriend.
He demands to be on Diana’s lap every moment of every day. Or else the screaming begins. So she wears him like a red faced fashion accessory.
It’s hard to get angry because he’s been so sick. But I think he’s gone past the sick thing and he realized screaming is a great way to get what you want.
Yesterday morning, Luca was screaming about wanting/not wanting to watch Fireman Sam on TV when Elijah asked, “How come I don’t get to choose what we watch? Why does Luca always get to choose?”
I simply pointed to the squirming and shouting Luca. Elijah nodded in sober agreement.
Luckily, I think the Anger Stage is on its way out. He managed to go to sleep last night without punching a hole in his wall.
I, on the other hand, feel a scream coming.
Thursday, March 22, 2012
Elijah and I attended cousin Finn’s birthday party last weekend. It seemed only fair, given the fact Eli had been asking to go for the previous 30 weeks.
It was at Legoland. The first thing I noticed about Legoland is they do not serve liquor. I would’ve appreciated this. And I’m fairly sure everyone of drinking age in the building would concur.
The second thing I noticed was a sign explaining in great detail how Legoland goes to great lengths to disinfect all the millions of legos millions of boogery children touch every minute in their establishment.
I immediately thought to myself, “My family is about to get violently ill.”
I was right.
About 6 minutes after arriving home from Legoland, Elijah began coughing so hard he puked his guts out. Luca, who did not attend Legoland, followed suit out of some kind of bizarre sibling barf rivalry. Both boys fell into a deep, weeklong sickness that has just begun to subside.
Aslkjfds fhjdsgauedfdsfusdhfsadkfshh.ahafsdfjadsfhsd. Oh, I’m sorry. I must have dosed off since I haven’t slept this entire week.
About 1,000 times a night, one boy or another would cough so hard they’d hit their heads on the ceiling and begin wailing.
Diana, bless her deaf soul, would sleep right through it. Unless her husband accidentally kicked her in her kidneys. At which point the unlucky parent would attend to the hacking, snotty mess of a child.
Around Tuesday night, or it could have been two hours from now, Luca was wailing and coughing in his crib and I stumbled in. I withdrew him from his crib and found that he was in a super sick, still asleep but violently ill state. I brought him to the rocking chair in our room and tried to sooth him.
It didn’t work.
He got more and more agitated and tried to leap from my arms with increasing force.
Not knowing what else to do, I placed him on the floor. He began pacing around our bedroom, wailing and speaking in tongues. He was waving his arms and having an incoherent angry conversation with no one.
I was struck by the thought that this is what he will look like when he is an old man, angry at the space baseball that came crashing through his window.
Eventually, he crumbled to the floor and fell immediately asleep. I gathered him up in my arms and whispered in his ear, “You tell ‘em. Those kids shouldn’t have been on your property in the first place.”
Monday, March 19, 2012
Last week, we attended a Childhood Cancer event at Elijah and Luca’s school. There were a lot of cookies to smear on your face and pizza to only eat the cheese off of. The event culminated in 20 or so brave people from the community shaving their heads in honor of all the brave kids who are fighting the disease.
This was no trim. This was a Telly Savalas, King of Siam cut. There were moms who were leaving feet of hair on the floor.
Did I do it? Hmm. Let me reach deep into my bag of excuses until I find one. Oh here’s one: I was worried about the deep scabs in my head from my constant itching to get rid of phantom lice. And I am a vain, vain man.
Anyhoo, at one point several members of the Evanston Fire Department came on stage to get shorn. And a few of their buddies sat in the audience to shout ridicules. They were sitting right behind us.
If George Lucas and Jeff Tweedy and Peter Jackson were sitting behind me, I don’t think I would have been half as excited as Luca was in the presence of real, live firemen.
Diana tried to get Luca to say hello to the Chief at one point, but he couldn’t bring himself to look anywhere but his feet. I think he was afraid he’d turn into a pillar of salt if he gazed upon the beauty of a man in a blue uniform and sensible shoes.
On our way out we chatted up another Fireman, who was just a little too good looking to be chatting with my wife. But I let him flirt with Diana because, well, he was bigger than me.
At one point he said, “Oh hey. The truck is right around the corner. Why don’t I park it out front and let the guys play in it?”
I believe the term I am looking for when describing Luca is “gobsmacked.” While he crawled over the life saving equipment I began to wonder if he was actually enjoying himself because his expression was so serious.
But then I realized he was concentrating on remembering ever second. “Must remember how weight of fire hat feels on head. Must remember button that makes lights go on…”
When the boys were thoroughly spent, I walked over to the Fireman and attempted to look like a man in my perfectly messed up hair and designer sneakers.
“Uh, hey. Thanks a lot man. It really meant a lot to these guys. Football. Shotguns. Circular saw.”
The guy crushed my tiny hand in his and said, “My pleasure. Let’s hope I don’t have to see you again under the wrong circumstances.”
We all laughed. I looked out of the corner of my eye to make sure Diana wasn’t laughing too much.
p.s. A retraction. In the last post, when Diana said to Eli, “You smell like a pee pee factory,” I said Eli’s response was, “You smell like a baby factory.”
In fact, he said, “You smell like a bb (bad breath) factory.”
Diana wanted that reflected in the blog.
Wednesday, March 14, 2012
A quick one before we begin:
Two days ago, Elijah was watching TV, intently as always, when Diana laid down next to him on the couch.
As she snuggled with him she said, “Eli, you smell like a pee pee factory.”
Without taking his eyes off the screen, he said, “You smell like a baby factory.”
And now onto the real story.
Luca goes to a pre pre school at the YMCA. It’s basically a daycare, but it’s run by lovely people who teach him lots of arts and crafts. And after a week or so of panic whenever Diana left (he’s his father’s son), he really loves it.
Recently I asked Diana how he was doing at school. Do the teachers agree with us that he’s the most awesome kid in the history of the world?
Diana smiled and said, “They say he is the messiest eater they’ve ever had.”
Huh. Ever? Ever is a pretty long time, dontcha think? Luca does eat with a certain…gusto. But he’s at an age where it’s socially acceptable to smash the cream cheese end of your bagel into your face.
Anyhoo, last Saturday, we attended my pal Tom’s daughter Iris’ birthday party. The party’s theme was “Tiny Town.” Tom had created a small village in his basement with a tiny zoo and tiny casino while upstairs we ate tiny tacos and tiny quiches. Both Steve and Diana separately came up to me and marveled at the 7oz Corona beers Tom served.
The afternoon culminated in a tiny cake for Iris. After I physically restrained Eli from “helping” Iris blow out the candles, a slice was placed in front of Luca.
“Use a fork,” I told him. Too late. He was mouthing a fist full of icing. He went after the like a lion into a fresh gazelle. I kept trying to force a fork into his hand, but gave up after a while because, quite frankly, I was afraid he’d eat the fork too.
Thankfully, the room’s attention was focused on Iris’ adorability. So no one really noticed Luca’s destruction. After he announced, “Dada! I’m done,” we hightailed it out of there so maybe cousin Finn would get blamed for the icing on Tom’s china cabinet.
Monday, March 12, 2012
In one of Diana’s 30 trips to Target last week, she bought the boys a few balls to play with that weren’t completely covered in Grover spit. One of her purchases was a cute little baseball and mitt combo.
Elijah was particularly excited and requested I play a game of catch right after his bath. Rather than force him to put clothes on, I tossed him a few lobs in the kitchen, where his bits and pieces could wave in honor of our nation’s pastime.
After the third of fourth ball careened off his mitt and into his bits and pieces, huge guilt pangs set in. He is almost 5 years old and has yet to successfully catch a ball. Ever.
That is a parenting fail. I needed to get him some eye hand coordination stat. I racked my brain to find a place where we could play sports in the freezing cold.
Then in my mind’s eye, a Native American appeared like a vision quest. I had been taking peyote at the time. He spoke to me.
“Young man. There’s a place you can go.”
I said, “huh?”
He said, “I said, young man, when you’re short on your dough. You can stay there and I’m sure you will find many ways to have a good time. It’s fun to stay at the Y.M.C.A”
Oh yeah. We have a Y membership. I could take the boys to the free Family Fun Gym on Sundays from 10-11:30. Thanks homosexual Native American!
I took the boys to the Y with the purpose of teaching them both some ball handling skills. I grabbed a little bouncy yellow ball and attempted in vain to get Eli to catch the sucker. After the third or fourth bounce off his skull, Eli muttered, “Can we do something else, dada?”
I wondered if this was a time I should be pushing him. Should I be forcing him to play ball so he can date the prom queen? I looked around for fatherly inspiration.
The place was filled with dads yelling at their sons and daughters.
There were dads yelling at their kids under the basketball hoops. There were dads yelling at their kids in front of soccer nets and there was a dad who was yelling at his kid in a hoola hoop.
I chucked the ball at a little curly haired kid and declared we were playing Monster Chase. The rules were simple. Do not get eaten by the Dada Monster.
Both boys got a good cardiovascular workout and learned some valuable monster evasion skills.
Wednesday, March 7, 2012
As I said the other day, the moment we entered The Skokie Exploratorium, Elijah took off to become leader of the Jungle Gym People.
It was impossible to track him the whole time. So, while hanging with Luca, my panic rested at about 15%, while occasionally jacking up to 88%. At which point I’d whip my head around the room, desperately trying to spot Eli’s floppy blond mop among the other 100 floppy blond mops in the rafters and nets and slides.
I tried to tell myself it was virtually impossible for him to be kidnapped at the Exploratorium. The parents were there to get a break from their kids and the thought of taking home an additional one was as appealing as driving a nail into their kneecaps. And there was a little gate with a tricky latch at the entrance, which everyone knows is a kidnapper’s Achilles heel.
But still. If I lost him, that would be it. Game over. I would cease any and all function as a human being.
At one point, I hadn’t seen him in a few minutes and I thought, “I’ll count to twenty. If I don’t see him by the time I count to twenty I’ll freak out.” 17…18…19…floppy blond head. Whew.
On the ride home, I wondered if anyone had talked to Eli about strangers.
“Eli. What would you do if someone you didn’t know tried to take you?”
“I’ll kick them and say, ‘Get away from me!’ and run away.”
Oh, good. Clearly Diana is ahead of this. But I continued my pop quiz.
“What if the stranger had candy and said you could get chocolate if you came with him?”
“I don’t like chocolate.”
“What if they had all the Star Wars movies and a bunch of Star Wars toys? Would you go with them?”
“Oh yes. Definitely.”
Wrong wrong wrong. I explained that no matter what a stranger said or did, if he (or she) wasn’t clearly sanctioned by mommy or daddy, he was to never, ever go with them. Ever. Never. Ever.
“Dad, can I play games on your phone?”
This was his was of saying “Message received, father. I will never go with a stranger. For no other reason than to make sure you don’t go insane.”
Tuesday, March 6, 2012
Every night before they go to bed, Elijah and Luca play “Fireman Sam.” They pretend to be the accident prone characters from Luca’s favorite Welsh TV show. Heroic Sam, asexual Penny, the menace Norman Price, and everyone else from the idyllic seaside town, Pontypandy.
The other night, the boys’ usual playmate, Diana (she does a mean Penny) was at work, so I volunteered to play.
“Dada! I’ll be Sam and you be Station Officer Steel!” Luca enthusiastically said. Eli volunteered to be Penny. Gender issues aside, I was excited to play. But I quickly realized Luca and Elijah have vastly different views of playing “Fireman Sam.”
LUCA: Let’s pretend Norman Price is stuck on a boat, Dada!
ELI: Let’s pretend you shot me with a gun but I didn’t die.
LUCA: Norman! Don’t be scared! I’m Fireman Sam!
ELI: I saw you shoot me, Station Officer Steel. I’m going to get you.
LUCA: You be careful, Norman.
ELI: I’m going blow up a bomb in your hands so you can’t shoot anyone else.
LUCA: Let’s go back to the station and have some stew!
ELI: I’m going to stick your head in the stew, Station Officer Steel.
I finally had to break character and tell Eli to cool it with the violence. This is “Fireman Sam” not “CSI: Pontypandy.” He responded like he always does when he brandishes his finger like a pistol.
“It’s just pretend, Dada.”
Monday, March 5, 2012
One of the genetic flaws I’ve passed onto Luca is timidity. Every time he hides behind my legs in public or weeps, “I scarrrred,” I damn my rickety double helix. Every time I see Elijah spread his arms and bray, “The sun will come out tomorrrrrow!” I thank Diana’s stronger genes.
On Saturday, I took both boys to the Skokie Exploratorium. For those of you new to HamannEggs, the Exploratorium is a kid’s play area in the basement of the Skokie community center. It contains lots of easily breakable toys, a completely unnecessary water area, and around 40 parents who take this chance to catch up on “Angry Birds” on their iPods.
The centerpiece is a massive jungle gym with a network of slides, tunnels and catwalks hung surprisingly precariously 15 feet off the ground. From the moment his coat was off, Elijah scampered up to claim his rightful places as King of the Plastic.
After a ten minutes playing with a broken choo choo train, I suggested to Luca that we climb the jungle gym.
“No…I scared,” he said and a little piece of my heart broke off.
I tried not to push it, but I said, “Here’s the deal. I’ll be right behind you the whole time. You won’t fall. It will be awesome and fun and cool and we’ll get to see the other kids worship Eli up there.”
He reluctantly agreed and we started up the foam and plastic ladder.
After one rung, he gave up. “I can’t doooo it!”
A steady stream of children literally climbed over his body on their way up the ladder. I swatted a couple away like flies.
“You can do it. You can do it, pal,” I said. “Don’t be me,” I thought.
I gently pushed his diapered bottom up to the next rung. “I scared! I can’t do it, dada!”
I fought the urge to scold him with all my might. One-year-olds were using his face as a foothold. I simply repeated my mantra, “You. Can. Do. It. You. Can. Do. It. You. Can. Do. It.”
Eventually, we made it to the top of the steps to the awesome, winding slide. We found a mom talking to a clearly terrified 4 year old.
She pointed to Luca, who had positioned himself on my lap and said, “Look at that little boy. He’s going to slide down the slide. See how brave he is?”
Luca said to me, quiet enough that the mom couldn’t hear him, “I scared, dada.” And we launched down the slide.
Friday, March 2, 2012
Things are eerily great at our house. Now, I don’t go looking for chaos. But this is a blog about the crazy, sometimes violent, always poop filled world of being the dad of two young boys. The meat and potatoes of my writing involves meat and potatoes being shoved where they do not belong.
The past few nights I sat on our bed and watched Elijah and Luca behave wonderfully to their mother and each other. Elijah kissing the top of Diana’s head. Luca striding around in nothing but a fireman’s hat and boots.
And I’ve thought, “My readership is in jeopardy here, children. My audience wants explosions and all night crying and big black dogs with missing limbs. In HamannEggs, if it bleeds it leads.”
The best I could come up with was Diana asked Eli how his day was and he said, “Great! I picked my nose and no one caught me.”
Funny, but you can’t write a whole blog about that.
Elijah and I are at a particularly peaceful stage. He seems to have completely forgotten where my rage buttons are. We sit and read books and he draws pictures of me and he actually told me he loved me more than his friends Callie and Liddie. Take that, girls!
So, sorry readers. We’re in a bit of a break in the action. But please stay tuned. I’m sure one of the boys is planning a major attack soon.