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Archive for December, 2008

Elizabeth got herself dressed for bed tonight. She promised a surprise.img_Dec_22_2008_43_02
She showed back up in: a skirt, a longsleeve shirt under a sweater, tights and, the coup de grace, her headband to hold back her hair.
“I’m tired of having to get dressed in the morning,” her four-year-oldness proclaimed.
I suggested that the headband might be uncomfortable for sleeping, but she insisted it would be plenty comfortable.
The thing is, wife and I wonder what she’s readying for. Sadly, we can see no great excitement that lies in the day ahead, the day before the day before Christmas.
Wife figures Elizabeth will be the first up, bide time in her room for a while, eat some breakfast, be bored and sucking her thumb by 10:30.
But a new day it will be, and Elizabeth is going to tear into it…having already leaped the stifling hurdle of getting dressed.
If she could only sleep with breakfast stashed in her cheeks like a squirrel, and just wake up and start chewing.

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img_Dec_20_2008_38_07It seems to me that there was an old Saturday Night Live skit called something like, “The Couple Who Wouldn’t Leave.” It was 2 a.m. or so, in somebody’s living room, and the host couple would hint around about going to sleep, and the visiting couple would say something like:
“Hey, got anything else to eat around here?”
Or, “Is that your phone? I’m going to make some long-distance calls.”
I wonder how that would play out, if the person was a first-grader. It might be even funnier, more rude, more shocking.
Like, if your wife brought home a friend of your first grader for a little after-school play. What if the first-grade visitor, before getting out of the car blurted out:
“Your yard looks bad.”
(Hey, you know, haven’t seen a lot of garden tours in December. Wonder why?)
For some reason, after this, my wife lets her in the house. She comes in, strips off her coat, throws it on the floor and runs upstairs.
(Make yourself at home, sweetie. Mi casa es su casa.)
Back downstairs, she looks around and declares: “This house is such a mess. Do you want me to clean it up?”
(Whatever my wife said was nicer than what I would have said, which would have been, “Sure, start with the basement. Try not to breathe in too much asbestos or lead paint.”)
Anyway, then the little charmer goes over to the fridge, opens it, and says: “What do you have for me to drink?”
Wife gives her some orange juice, and she goes off to play for a while, until she pops back in: “Next time I come back, I want more orange juice.”
Now, the Dad perspective here, the purely selfish Dad angle, is: This kind of behavior, this kind of day for the wife, really doesn’t make for a smooth entry home after a day at work.
It really doesn’t help with the overall, shall we say, household karma.

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It was about 11:15 Sunday morning, when Fontaine became bored with the family’s lack of leadership.img_Dec_15_2008_04_35
“Alright everyone, we’re having a family meeting!” the six-year-old announced.
Wife and I were slow to report to the conference/family room, so once I plopped on the couch, Fontaine declared:
“O.K., we’re starting the meeting.”
A chart had already been drawn up, offering various options as to what the family should do next. The choices were: Church; Walk; Playground; Just Play Outside; Drebble a ball; and Eat Lunch Now.
The Future Middle Manager instructed that she would be voting first, but I interrupted.
Can each person only vote once, or can we vote for more than one option as second and third choices?
There’s always some loser at work who makes a meeting longer by asking questions like this, so I thought I’d be that guy.
Middle Management seemed pleased to hear this question, and allowed that each could vote three times.
Middle Management then cast its vote.
I went second.
“Just Play Outside,” I called out. Middle Management nodded in seeming approval.
Wife arrived and voted for Dribble a Ball.
“Dribble a ball!?” Middle Manager chortled, as she made the tally. “I thought no one was going to vote for that.”
Dribble the Ball, it seems, is like throwing a vote to Ralph Nader.
Next up, four-year-old.
“Elizabeth, it’s your turn.”
“I’m not Elizabeth, I’m Sarah.”
(Forgot, we were playing the pretend-I’m-somebody-else game during the family meeting.)
Finally, we all finished voting. I thought.
“O.K., who needs to vote again?” Middle Manager called out.
So we all voted again.
I looked at the tally sheet.
Church sure got a lot of votes, I said.
“That’s from Mr. Moose,” Fontaine explained, glancing at the stuffed moose sitting near her. “He voted three times.”
Oh man, the unpredictable Moose vote swayed it. Shades of the old Bull Moose party. Church in a landslide.
Wife then noted that it was already 11:30, and church was out of the question.
Meeting adjourned/exploded into chaos, and we all went and stood in the kitchen.
I popped a bagel in the toaster. Two other voices said they were hungry.
And in the end, an option that garnered no votes won: Eat Lunch Now.
No sweat. Fontaine got the chart, put 28 tallies after Eat Lunch Now and declared it the winner.
Never too late to have a clean outcome.

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Are We There Yet?

It’s about 45 miles from here to Williamsburg, where we headed last Sunday to dump…to avail one set of the img_Dec_04_2008_25_27grandparents of the opportunity to spend the afternoon with their lovely and pleasant granddaughters.
It usually takes us about an hour to make that trip.
But this time, it took us: One Thousand And Eleven.
I know this, because shortly after we hit the interstate, Fontaine began counting.
One…two…three…four…five…
Elizabeth sat next to her and sucked her thumb.
Four hundred and fifty eight…Four hundred and fifty nine…Four hundred and sixty.
We did the five hundreds.
We did the six hundreds.
We played music, we talked, we looked at stuff, and all through it came the constant, dedicated drone of time marching on. Slowly.
Very slowly.
We did the seven hundreds, and at seven hundred and ninety nine, we forgot where we were.
So we did the six hundreds again, and the seven hundreds again.
Rain pounded the windshield.
Numbers pounded our brains.
I looked in the rear-view at Elizabeth, sucking her thumb.
At that moment, I kind of wished Fontaine still sucked hers.

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Check out those organic turkeys in the picture.img_Dec_02_2008_17_15
(That must be organic grass they’re walking on.)
But they look like…
Oh, I know what you’re thinking. They’re chickens. But they’re turkeys. Let me explain.
Wife phoned me from the grocery store before Thanksgiving, and the options for the big, traditional meal were: giant turkey breast, for our little nuclear family, or a smaller organic chicken.
Fontaine, we figured, she’d try some. Elizabeth, at the age of four, appears to have somehow staked a claim as a vegetarian (Fontaine, on the other hand, says if there’s no meat, there’s no meal, and refers to people who even eat vegetables as “vegetarians.”) Rosebud, she’d pour milk on some turchicken and throw it on the floor.
We went with the chicken. But we were afraid the girls would be disappointed without a turkey (see: Pilgrims), so we just decided to refer to the organic chicken all day as “The Turkey.”
<i>How’s the turkey coming along?
Ooh, the turkey is smelling good.
Anybody want a turkey leg?</i>
They’d just seen “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving,” which presented a final hurdle. They found out about the wishbone.
I don’t really know what part the wishbone comes from, but upon some (my nearly-vegan sister has probably dropped out long ago, so I will continue with this sentence) rooting around in the faux-turkey carcass, I pulled out a bone in the shape of a Y.
So that proves it; it was a turkey.
There’s no Y in chicken.

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