Thursday, April 28, 2016

Luca Hair

Luca has some strong opinions. For example, he flat out refuses to read borrowed books. He threw a tremendous fit the other night when our neighbors dared to offer their Harry Potter book to us. He can’t seem to articulate what makes him so crazy about it. He just shrieks, “I! Don’t! Want! Used! Books!” I can feel Diana’s eyes on me when he does this.

I don’t have the heart to tell him every book he touches at school is dripping with Cooties.

His latest thing is not wanting to cut his hair. Ever again. According to Schuyler the sitter, he had a barber chair conversion a few weeks ago and decided to go the way of Samson.

Elijah was born for long hair. He seemed to exit the womb with blonde, wavy surfer locks.  Luca, on the other hand, wasn’t really build for long hair, which I blame 100% on his Hamann genes.

With his mousy coloring and stubby, bowlegged stance (all mine), his long hair gives him a decidedly Hobbit appearance. I keep expecting him to start hanging out with 400 year old Elves and mumbling about “his precious.” Which, to be clear, would be amazing.

But, like all parenting, I didn’t want his hair to reflect poorly on me. So we forced him to head to a super expensive Evanston salon. Yes, it was my hair salon. So I wanted him to play it cool and not throw a fit, which could ruin my rep among the gay people.

After much bribing and promising of gifts, Luca sat for a styling. We warned the stylist in the most patronizing way possible that “This one is a little nervous about getting his hair cut today,” wink wink. Ugh.

Of course Luca sat quietly and chatted cheerfully with the stylist and acted like a dream child. And his hair looked terrific, for three full days.

Eli, of course, got seemingly yards cut off his hair, but ended up looking exactly the same as he always does.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Luca Bike

Last Saturday morning was glorious. The first (and last) perfect Midwestern morning of the season. 65 degrees. Sunny. Winds were ESE, 12mph. Humidity was 55%, Dew Point was 38 Degrees F, Visibility was 9.0 mi and UV Index was a glorious 1 of 10.

I decided then and there to ruin it by teaching Luca how to ride his bike without training wheels.

Hamann folklore tells how my mother used to eat two Valium and drink a shot of vodka before teaching us how to drive a car. Since it was 8:15am (and we don’t own any Valium) I sat Luca down on the front steps and made a proposal.

“Luca. I am going to try my hardest not to lose my temper this morning. I promise not to yell or lose my patience or tell you you’re doing it wrong. We’re just going to enjoy this nice morning and not make too big a deal out of it. But remember. Riding a bike is tough. It takes a long, long time to learn. Like, months. You may not get the hang of it all summer. And you know what? That’s ok. Also, you WILL get hurt today. I imagine some scraped knees in your future. Maybe a couple bruises. And let’s hope that helmet holds up.”

Luca looked at his bike with just the right amount of dread.

We did that thing where I held onto his bike and ran behind him while he peddled. Luca hated this. He would shout, “Let go! Let go!” and swat at my hand. I would let go and he would wobble and crash.

But occasionally, the world would stop he would ride. I would forget about the mortgage and dumb work and the fact I look like Mr. Burns naked. And I would just watch him ride.

After the third or fourth great ride, I said, “Okay. I think that’s it for today. You did really great.” This was to cover the fact that my heart was pounding erratically from running behind him.

Luca said, “No. I want to learn how to ride for real. Without you pushing me.”

I explained this was the toughest part of bike riding. Pushing off and getting momentum to be able to ride without falling over…

And then he did it. He pushed off on his bike and took off.  Just like that he could ride a bike.

I hugged him and said, “That was amazing. I can’t believe you learned so fast. It took, like, the whole summer for Eli to learn how to ride a bike. But don’t make fun of him about that.”

Luca raced to the front door and immediately screamed, “Eli! I just learned how to ride a bike in an hour and it took you the whole summer!”

Eli responded in perfect big brother mode, “Who cares?”

Luca then informed me he needed a new bike. Because this old one was not worthy of his expertise. I agreed wholeheartedly.

Thursday, April 14, 2016


I’m not going to get all weepy about Elijah turning nine. Nine is awesome. Nine is great. Nine totally doesn’t serve as a reminder of my mortality.

Eli is one of the smartest kids I know. He tailored his birthday list in a way to appeal to both his parent’s passions (educational junk and violent video games), so he got maximum presents.

He also referenced Hamann family birthday traditions that I’m not sure exist:

“Since it’s my birthday, I get to choose where we go for dinner tonight.”

“Since it’s my birthday, I get unlimited screens for the week.”

“Since it’s my birthday, I get to hit Luca in the face as much as I want.”

“Since it’s my birthday, I get to smoke cigarettes.”

In the end, we opted out of cigarettes, but took Eli and the neighbors to The Little Mexican Café and allowed him to choose his own guacamole toppings (his secret ingredient is avocado).

He also managed to talk his way into opening up all his presents last night instead of on his actual birthday. “I just don’t want you to have to wake up early on my account.”

I demanded we immediately put all his new kid cooking supplies into the dishwasher. Diana said, “Okay, Howard Hughes.”

I granted Eli a special bedtime “Be With.” As I lay at his side I held his hand and said, “Happy birthday, my special guy. You are a really terrific kid, you know that? You are funny and kind and smart and everyone loves you.”

He sleepily said, “I know, Daddy.”

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Costa Car Crash

Our Costa Rica trip is quickly fading into the past. My skin has officially transitioned from eggshell white back to bone white. I can now eat foods without them immediately liquefying in my stomach. I’m also back to being vaguely angry all the time.

But before our trip recedes fully, I wanted to get a quick story down on digital paper.

Our hotel wasn’t in a town so much as it was situated at the end of a little highway dotted with charming, but very modest restaurants. In fact, the highest rated place in the area was literally a garage with a couple picnic tables.

Every night, we would stroll down the little highway and visit a new little colon scraping spot. There was no sidewalk to speak of, so Diana and I would walk closest to the road to shield Elijah and Luca from the stream of motorcycles and cars. We were never really that scared of the vehicles, because everyone behind the wheel was super friendly.

One night, we were all sitting at a roadside bar/restaurant watching the boys not eat their food. It embarrasses me to no end when we sit like dumb, rich Americans and throw out dinner because it might taste yucky. I started telling servers that we simply like to look at food, but our religion forbids us from allowing our children to eat.

I was about to launch into a “These people would kill to eat those fish tacos” speech that was almost worse than not eating the food in the first place when Luca very matter of factly said, “I just saw guy get hit by a car.”

I had to admit, it was a great way to distract me from forcing him to eat fish tacos. But we all turned our heads and saw a crowd of people rush over to help a victim of a head on collision involving a motorcycle and an SUV.

I was a little scared Luca was in shock. I asked him if he saw the whole thing. “Oh yeah. The guy was on his motorcycle and then, bam! The car hit him and he went like this.” He gave us some pantomimes of the accident.

I was also worried Luca had seen his first dead body. The crowd obscured my vision, but Luca assured me the motorcycle driver was “Moving his head a little.” So he may just broken his spine.

We waited for an ambulance to arrive. And waited. And waited. After 20 minutes, a police car crawled up and two officers stood around a bit. But no ambulance. I really second guessed my decision to let the boys jump from the big rock “Bros Nest” into the pool. A broken arm would most likely have to wait until we got back to Evanston.

Eventually, our bill arrived and we walked home, not knowing the fate of the man on the motorcycle. We walked a lot farther off the highway. But not too far as to risk stepping in oxen poop, which was everywhere.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Bros Nest

Our Costa Rica hotel was very nice, but a little on the old side. The septic system hadn’t been updated since the Eisenhower administration, so every restroom featured a little sign asking you not to use any toilet as it was intended.

But what the hotel lacked in flushing capabilities, it more than made up for in pool capabilities. Aside from being bathwater warm shallow enough to keep Luca alive, it featured a Bros Nest (named by yours truly).

The Bros Nest was this little hot tub about 6 feet above the main pool. The two pools were connected by a neato waterfall. This is why I loved our hotel. No American hotel in a million billion years would allow this death trap to exist. The whole thing was made from slippery rock that would smash your skull of you even brushed against it. You had to scramble up said slipper rock to access the pool. And if you survived, you could treat yourself to leaping from one pool to the other very shallow pool, dislocating your knees if you were lucky.

As we stood before this amazing feat of insane engineering, I caught the eye of some of the other American moms. They all gave me almost imperceptible “no” head shakes. They had all declare the Bros Nest as off limits to any human being.

I had a little inner debate with myself. Yes, banning the Bros Nest would satisfy my anxieties. It would also guarantee we would not have to visit a Costa Rican hospital (which, based on the septic systems would not be good). Plus it would give me the opportunity to be a mean dad.

But then I looked into the faces of Elijah and Luca and thought, “They should have the opportunity to break an arm in a foreign country.”

I declared the Bros Nest open for business! I also informed Diana that “Hoes” were also allowed.  She declined.

We spent the next week creating elaborate games in which the loser had to walk the plank. I did have to leap in and rescue Luca a few times when he shouted his emergency word “Mango!”

Occasionally, a kid would join us as his mother shot us daggers with her eyes. We would then explain one of our games.

“You have to choose a super hero. And then fight the other two super heroes to see who has to walk the plank. It can’t be a super hero with mind powers and you can’t be a god. If your super hero is part of a team, you may call in the other members of your team. But those team member can’t be gods either.”

The kid would then just politely excuse him or herself. No waterfall was worth talking to these losers.

In the end, no one fell or broke an arm. But Luca got banished twice for roughhousing. Diana graced us with one leap on the end of the week as an honorary Bro, which was the highlight of our trip.