Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Big Sistsers Make the Best Sisters

Just a heads up, this is second hand reporting, shotty I know, but I just had to share the story.  The last few weeks Gina's been teaching a new 5pm class at the new gym in our area.  Because it's so early (and because it has a kick ass kids' club) Gina has been taking the girls with her so I can take some much needed golf lessons (like, it was almost a court ordered requirement to prevent harm to those around me).  For some reason, probably because it's nearing bed time, Rosaline has had a tough time at this club.  She does great at our usual gym on Saturday mornings, but not so much here.  Heading in to the club yesterday Gina pulls the girls in and tells them that they need to be really good big sisters and play with Rosaline with they're at the club because she gets sad when she's by herself.  Gina signs everyone in and immediately the girls take off for the far reaches of the room.  Rosaline starts getting "quiver lip" and Gina calls the two older girls back.  "Remember, you need to play with Rosaline today, OK?"  Both willingly agree and Gina goes to teach.  When she comes back to pick them up the woman in charge of the kids' club tells Gina "Rosaline has the best big sisters ever!  I don't know if they'll always be so good to her but they played with her the entire time they were here."  Apparently they took mom's request to heart and didn't leave her little side; choosing to play in the infant zone for an hour and twenty minutes and forgo the call of much bigger kid toys.  To hear that story makes me very happy.  And it's OK if they don't stay that way forever; they're sisters after all.  But to know that their relationship is founded on such love I will always take solace in the knowledge that, despite what may happen at times in the future, they will return to that root of sisterly love.  That my littlest girl will always be taken care of by her big sisters.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Oh Damnit!

There are moments in life where all of your life boils down to a moment.  Where, in a split second, that which is important becomes fully obvious and that which isn't. ... isn't.  After fifteen years of driving with out a single accident or even a minor traffic ticket (got one parking ticket for street sweeping. ... bastards!) I was in my first car collission yesterday.  It wasn't anything epic, coming to a stop sign a 17-year-old in a small SUV was making a left on to the street I was coming down when she lost control through the wet intersection and spun into us.  But Gina was at a festival this weekend so I had all three girls in the car with me at the time.  I could see her lose control as soon as she hit the water and my only instinct was to get past her as quickly as possible, so I floored it.  Unfortunatly I didn't get quite past her all the way and she took out the back end of the car (which rattle the dog a little bit).  However, if I hadn't floored it she would have t-boned into Arianna.  That's what rattled me.  A bumbper is replaceable, a wheel well is fixable, a tail light can be bought; Arianna is a little harder to come by.  I pulled off to the side and checked on the kids - Rosline was still sleeping, Arianna asked "what was that?" and Genevieve wanted to know if we weren't going to Grandma's anymore.  I then went over to check on the other driver. ... poor kid.  She was hysterical, as I imagine any young driver would be.  In her I saw my own girls sitting there, slumped over the stearing wheel, balling into the palms of her hands.  Gina said she was lucky to have hit me, someone who isn't overly attached to "things" and who, as a young father of girls, could picture my own child here.  I told her to relax, these things happen.  We have insurance, no one was hurt, life would go on.  We took some pictures and exchanged details and went on our way.  As I got back into the car, Genevieve was a little perterbed that someone would hit our car.  "That's not nice; she's not supposed to do that!" She huffed as we drove away.  I told her that it wasn't on purpose and that's why we call it an "accident".  She was a little less forgiving then I was.  We got to my moms and life continued on.  It was only an hour or so later when my sister comes up from the playroom to the kitchen where I was feeding Rosaline.  She looks at me cautiously before informing me "You know Genevieve is saying 'Oh damnit' down there?"  What?  "Yeah I wasn't sure the first time so I followed her around and she's said it five times now!"  Sure enough I go down there and she's "Oh damnit" this and "Oh damnit" that.  I pulled her and Arianna aside and told them that's a daddy word only, and even Daddy isn't supposed to say that word. "Only when lady hits our car?" Genevieve asks as she nods her head in self assurance.  So that's where she picked up on it.  I'll admit, it's not the only time I've sworn infront of them, and it probably won't be the last.  But clearly, even in emotional moments, I need to watch my mouth because they absorb everything.  Oh damnit!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Potty at Midnight

Part of potty training is the large and risky jump from night time pull ups to underwear.  As noted in the past Genevieve had made the jump effortlessly. ... almost too effortlessly.  Arianna, on the other hand, just couldn't seem to hold it and slept too deeply to wake up and handle it.  So she's been relegated to "ladies" (pull ups with Disney princesses on them) every night.  I'm a softy.  I'm pretty sure you know that about me by now.  So a month ago I let her sleep in panties.  Two nights in a row I was tricked into it.  Two mornings in a row sheets were changed.  Well we went back to ladies and for a good two weeks she had no issues so we put her back in panties at night.  It's my head if she has another accident since I'm the softy who pushed for it (how could I say "no" to that pleading face?).   So as insurance I pluck her out of bed around 11 everynight and sit her on the toilet to empty the reserves that have built up.  So far we've had no issues.  And I have to say, there's something magical that happens in these moments.  Her limp body completely at rest on my shoulder, her sleeping face as she sits there, rocking back and forth as her core tries to engage itself with out the use of her brain, the peace in her.  I don't know. ... it's not really describable.  It's just a moment in every day life that makes me smile.  It's the little things, the things you never imagined you'd find so much joy in, that make parenting such a tremendous experience.  It's the head on your shoulder when they're watching TV.  It's the microscopic bite of dinner that they try to share with you.  It's the "I love you Daddy" for the 10,000th time and yet moves you just as much as the first.  It's the slap on the face from a 9 month old in the middle of the night who just wants to touch you so you'll look at her.  It's the last drink of water after lights out.  The pitter patter of running feet in the morning, desperately trying to make it to the TV before someone hears them.  It's the hand slipped into yours even when you didn't ask for it.  It's the song being sung in the back seat.  The delight at cake pops from Starbucks.  The importance of a penny for the M&M jar.  The dandelion picked just for you, which everyone else may see as a weed but to you it's a bouquet of the finest flora.  And yes, it's the midnight pee session that she doesn't even know is taking place, but to me. ... well, it's a perfect way to end my day; staring into the face of such a lovely creature as she sleeps. ... on a toilet.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

I Love Little Girls

Seriously, I do.  For some reason when ever someone finds out I have three daughters, most of them either ask if we're going to try for a boy (like "keep working at it, one of these times you'll get it right") or say something along the lines of "I'm sorry", shooting me the same look you give to the sweet looking pitbull in the euthinization cage at the SPCLA.  While not ruling out another kid down the line, and in no way saying that we wouldn't love to add a little boy to the mix to change things up - because we would - let me make this clear: I love having little girls.  And nothing reminds me how much I love my daughters more then seeing little boys their same age; it's exhausting just watching them.  On Sunday I took all three girls to the zoo.  Gina was working a festival down by San Diego so I set out with juice boxes, pb&j's, and a 6 pack of patience.  But all I really needed was the food.  The girls were so easy; they walk nicely and hold hands and listen and act like little people. ... not whirling dervishes of chaos.  I know you can't lump all boys into the same dog pile, so I won't.  I know plenty of good little boys, and I was a little boy once (not a good one, though) so you'd assume my bias is tainted in their favor to begin with.  But the ones at the zoo were all crazy.  Screaming and hitting and running and climbing and hitting and climbing and running and screaming.  One poor dad, chasing after his lone child, passed me by in slow motion.  He did the whole "once over" of our little family and you could see a pleading confusion in his eyes as we locked gazes for a moment.  "What the hell?!" he seemed to ask.  "I'm desperately pursuing 1 and you're calmly walking with a stroller and 2 holding on and as instructed."  We then sat and ate our lunch while another little boy nearby impersonated a wine sommelier, chewing each bite before intentionally spitting it out on the floor next to him.  His poor mother looked exhausted and out of ideas.  Then the girls went and played on the playground while this grandmother chased a little boy (she was underneath the structure, he was on top) as he tried to find any possible means to jump off and kill himself.  Backwards down the slide, over the security railings, on top of the little slide "house".  Her screams of "Christopher" wore down her voice to a horse whisper by the time she finally pryed him down and carried him away screaming.  I do want to note on that one that the grandfather just sat on the bench the whole time eating a bag of chips and watching his poor wife struggle with their progeny.  And these are just three examples of many.  Yes, part of it is my girls are very well behaved - we got lucky with that.  But I did not see one little girl there giving her parents a rough time. ... not one.  And not all the boys were difficult; there were several who seemed very well mannered.  But the problems were overwhelmingly little boys.  So here's the deal: the next time someone says "Three girls, huh?  That's gotta be rough."  (which happened at my sister-in-law's soccer game on Saturday. ... word for word) I'm going to say, "It could have been worse. ... I could have had sons!"

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Planning Parenthood

I was never a soldier or police officer or a cowboy, but I imagine those who've dedicated their lives to such careers look at children pretending to be them through sideways eyes.  Seeing some child pretend to be in the heat of battle when you've just returned from war, or playing cops and robbers after you'd just had a tweeker try and shank you must be. ... difficult to say the least.  Wow. ... I was looking for a good entry analogy for my post and I believe I overshot my mark by a large amount.  I'm about to liken parenting to life threatening careers and that's not at all accurate.  Well, the delete button is all the way up there so there's not much I can do about it now.
Anyway, I was sitting in the sauna at the gym the other day (see how unlike a war hero my life is already) and there were two young women in there chatting it up.  They were probably in their early twenty's but couldn't have been much more then that.  They were talking about having children, neither of them pregnant or even near that stage in their life, they were just fantasizing about how it would go.  They were planning it to a "t".  This is the gender, this is the month they'll be born, this is how I'll help them to walk and this is when we'll potty train.  They'll only eat these foods and bed time will be promptly when I say it is.  I didn't laugh out loud, but internally I was busting up.  I have a policy at the gym, and it's not the best but it helps me get through my workout and back to the office efficiently: I don't talk to people.  Making friends only increases the number of conversations you have to have and takes away from the time you have to do what you came to do. ... nice, huh?  But, if I were into making friends I would have jumped right in with "ladies, plan all you want, you'll still find yourself plucking a sleeping three year old from her bed at 1 am and plopping her on the toilet to avoid changing the sheets at 5.  As you place her back in her room and snuggle her in with a stuffed tiger you didn't buy her but will move heaven and earth to find when it's lost you won't have the slightest memory that you were only going to feed her organic vegetables and free range dairy products, because sleep deprivation robs you of all memories prior to leaving the hospital with that newborn.  And after struggling with breastfeeding for two weeks, your nipples cracked and bloody, that defiant stance on formula will weaken slightly.  Nick Jr will break your resolve of not letting your little one watch TV when you realize you can have 20 minutes during Yo Gabba Gabba to fold that pile of laundry that has quadrupled since the poop machine arrived.  And cloth diapers?  You'll laugh that one off shortly too.  The 7 o'clock bedtime you guaranteed will hold firm until you realize that no one falls asleep till 11:30 anyway, and by this time you'll have no memory that you caved and went for the epidural during labor.  That fancy stroller you demanded will have no resale value after the horrors it's seen, which only the remaining stains will attest to in public.  Half of the cloths you bought will sit in storage for eternity with price tags still affixed because the winter was unseasonably warm or your little one didn't grow according to your fantasy growth chart.  Your dog, your best friend and your "furry child". ... did you feed him last night?  The day before?  You'll let a swear word slip once and this will be the first word your child says.  You'll tell friends she's saying "truck" but everyone knows "tr" sounds nothing like "f".  But, at some point in all this madness you'll find a rhythm, a rhythm that works perfectly for you.  A rhythm that works perfectly for your child.  A rhythm that looks nothing like what you planned all those years and months earlier.  And this is the reality of parenthood.  It can't be planned, it can only be discovered as you go along.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012


I think the hardest part about being a parent, the thing nobody teaches you about in a baby prep class and no one writes about when you're expecting, is keeping yourself from laughing hysterically when you need to be serious.  Last night I took advantage of my Father's Day gift and started my series of golf lessons.  As laughable as I may have looked that's not the funny part.  I got home just as the girls were going down and then Gina and I went into the kitchen to make some dinner.  We're talking for a while, enjoining a nice lass (OK, glasses) of pinot grigio when we hear a faint whisper during a lull in conversation.  Gina bellows in her "I'm not yelling I'm just being serious" mom voice for Genevieve to stop talking and go to sleep.  It's beauty is in it's ability to bounce off the walls and power its way into that back room, where we can now hear a forceful whisper attempting to quickly end the conversation they were having before mom actually comes back there.  I take the cue and journey back (I think dad coming in is like the warning shot; you know when you see dad you're gonna be fine, but don't push it because mom comes next).  I crack the door a little more and as I poke my head into the darkness, in perfect unison, both girls break into a Looney Tunes quality snoring sound effect.   I wish I could type how comical it actually sounded. ... it was perfect.  I had to yank my head back out of the room before I erupted in laughter because, like dogs smell fear, children smell entertained and if they sense they've got you on the ropes they'll come for the kill.  I run back to the kitchen and I tell Gina "you've got to go back there.  Just stick your head in; don't be mad.  Just stick your head in and tell me that's not hilarious!"  She does, and she agrees, though she's much better about handling herself then I am.  "What's going on in here" she questions.  "We sleeping" whispers Arianna in response as Genevieve amps up the volume on her snore to make the case in point.  This is why dad's need mom's. ... there's no way I could have gotten through that with a straight face.  I was completely and utterly useless.   I think the best part may have been the play by play of Arianna.  "We sleeping", as if you couldn't tell from the snoring, my telling you what's happening should clear the matter up.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

A Roar in the Night

I don't recall ever being so closely attached to an inanimate object when I was a child.  You know, the binky or the lovey or the tattered remnants of a stuffed bunny you call floppy.  I probably did have something, I think most kids do, but I certainly can't recall it some thirty years later.  I remember some friends of my parents who's daughter had "dolly".  Dolly was such a crucial part of their child's id that they'd stocked back up's in the garage so that they could be replaced if and when they were needed.  I thought that ridiculous at the time.  At the time.  Not so much anymore.  Arianna's attachment of choice is a stuffed tiger from the Tucson zoo that her Grandpa bought her when we went out there for Christmas about two years ago.  We call him "Roar" and he's already been replaced once.  With the stripes wearing off and making him look more like a cougar then a tiger, Grandpa offered to buy her a new stuffed animal when we were out there last November.  Naturally, out of a wall of 100's of animals, she chose another Roar.  She's tried to sleep with other animals, usually adamant about it until the lights go off; that's when she back tracks and cries for or Roar to come back.  If she has to make a choice on which toy to bring, it's usually Roar and this weekend, with Gina working a festival, it was no different when we went over to my mom's for lunch.  Of course, Grandma threw us for a little loop once we got there.  You see, Arianna has made it through the night with a dry bed (in big girl panties) for a week now so Grandma got them both a little reward for being so grown up: new purses that look like poodles.  Flash a fancy car in front of your eyes and you temporarily forget about the horse that brought you there.  Needless to say, in the shine of a new toy we forgot Roar when we went home that night.  And, to be honest, we didn't think anything of him/her (I'm a little confused on the gender of Roar) for the rest of the day.  Arianna wanted the poodle purse to sleep with and that's when I noticed his absence.  I immediately figured out where he was but I knew better then to say anything out loud. ... maybe she wouldn't notice. ... maybe.  ROOOOOAAAAARRRRRRR!!!!!  Then again, maybe not.  Upon discovering him gone you might have well removed a foot.  She screamed bloody murder so loud that it woke Rosaline sleeping on the other side of the house.  I tried to calm her but she demanded I go to Grandma's right now and rescue him.  I explained I could not; I was the only adult in the house.  Then she demanded that Grandma bring him home now.  I told her that was not possible either; we'd get him first thing in the morning but she'd have to sleep with out him tonight.  Then she wanted to know where he would sleep?  With Grandma and Papa in their bed, I explained.  Not good enough.  She wanted him to have his own sleeping bag.  Perhaps she didn't want Papa to rub off any of his snuggle.  I don't know.  I just know one thing for sure: we're going to Tucson at the end of the month. ... and this dad is stocking up on a couple more Roar's.