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Archive for July, 2009

img_Jul_26_2009_26_55This is really bad. But the girls wail all the time. There is no difference in tone or fury between getting a pebble stuck in a shoe and, say, losing an appendage.
So it was the other day, a few minutes after I’d gotten home from work, right as they were getting back from a day with the grandparents.
The two younger ones had just entered the house when I heard the nuclear-alert-level wail from down at the sidewalk. I didn’t expect much…
Until Fontaine headed toward me and I saw a mouth FULL of bright red blood. So much bright red blood that I couldn’t see her teeth, some of which I guessed weren’t there anymore.
Her flip flop had gotten hung up, and she went face-first into a concrete step. Inside, we saw that one baby tooth had been knocked clean from her face, and a part of her front permanent tooth had been chipped off, un-clean.
This missing tooth, amid the hysteria, the moaning, the undecipherable yelling, I discerned presented a huge problem for tooth fairy related reasons.
“I’ll find it,” someone called out, and to my surprise, that was me.
I ran outside. There perched on the second step was a big chunk of enamel. It couldn’t have been ripped out of there better if Uncle Crazy had followed through and tied a string to it and the other end of the string to a door knob and slammed the door.
Tell you one thing, she may have lost a tooth, but she bloodied up those steps pretty well.
Meantime, Fontaine’s top lip swelled up like one of Pamela Anderson’s. Pamela Anderson’s lips, to be clear on this.
Fontaine put that smashed-out tooth out for the tooth fairy.
And the tooth fairy must’ve felt as bad for her as Wife and I did, because the next day, Fontaine reported that she got $10.

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Rosebud did not want me to put her to bed. She wanted Mom.img_Jul_17_2009_29_32
I persisted. I kept reading a bedtime book. She persisted, too. And here’s how it played out, an anger-fueled hiphop remix of Margaret Wise Brown’s Big Red Barn.
By the Big Red Barn in the great green field, there was a little pig who was learning to squeal.
I WANT MOMMY TO PUT ME TO BED! I WANT MOMMY!!!
There was a great big horse and a very little horse.
I WANT MOMMY TO PUT ME TO BEDDDDDDD! DADDY TAKE OVER WITH THE BIG GIRLS!!!!
And on every barn is a weather vane of course, a golden flying horse.
MOMMYYYYYYY! DADDY, YOU TAKE OVER WITH FONTAINE AND ELIZABETH! MOMMYYYYY!
There was a little toy house, and a young mouse
NO READ THIS BOOK!!! I WANT MOMMY TO READ BOOKS!!!!
She grabs the book out of my hand.
I step out of the room, go downstairs to get something to wipe the tears from her cheeks and something to mop the blood off the side of my face from my burst eardrum.
I return to the room and wipe her face.
“Are you ready to be tucked in now? I have this nice blanket.”
She whimpers a “yes.”
I tuck her in and say goodnight.
And they all lived together in the Big Red Barn.

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There is a rule of thumb for taking kids somewhere: I think it suggests that you allow 10 minutes per child img_Jul_15_2009_16_39to get them and their stuff rounded up and out the door. So for you math-heads: Three kids equals 30 minutes.
Yesterday, a first-hand experiment (taking them to the beach) produced a corollary to the rule of thumb:
For each minute you plan to spend on the beach, you need to spend an equal amount of time packing.
It took us from about 9 a.m. until 10:45 to pack: wash grapes and cherries, slice bread and cheese for snack, wash travel cups and load with ice and water, find sand shovel and bucket bin, beach umbrella, extra diaper, wipes (in case), small cooler, beach towels, drying off towels.
And then the back-breaker: smear ‘em up with so much suntan lotion that, by the end of summer, they’d still blend in with a polar bear.
One hour forty five minutes, and we weren’t staying overnight.
Once at the beach, the girls again successfully divided and conquered.
Rosebud, 2, only wanted to play on the beach blanket with wife. No going to the end of the water because it was “scary.” Elizabeth, 4.75 years, wanted to play at the edge of the water. Fontaine, 7, wanted to go in deep and bob over the waves.
So wife and I are tried to patrol a front that stretched from the blanket to about 50 feet in the water.
A couple of times, one of us tried to dispatch Elizabeth from one end of the line to the other. It’s like when the receiver goes out for a long pass in football, and the quarterback throws the ball and it gets hung up in the wind.
“OK, go straight to Mommy, see her up there?”
Heads straight, sees a shell, looks down, staggers toward the wrong blanket.
“ELIZABETH, NO, MOMMY’S OVER THERE!”
Wander. Stagger. Sea shell. Airplane. Wander. Stumble. Gosh I love them, man this is great, I remember the ocean when I was a kid, all the sand would get in your swimming suit and pile up in your…
“NEXT TO YOU! TO THE RIGHT! NO, WRONG BLANKET!”
Ah, there you go, there’s Mommy.
Now, where’s Fontaine?!
Stayed on the beach for two hours, bettering the new corollary by a full 30 minutes.
(As long as you don’t count the unloading and clean-up).
Let’s not count it, and call it a win.

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img_Jul_06_2009_41_09July 4 was my Grandad’s birthday. He raised 12 children, was once one of the first on the Eastern Shore to own a car, ran a farm, a store, a truck farming business, built a church.
I always felt a closeness to him, even though he was very old even when I was a kid, because he was the only other guy around with blond hair and blue eyes. And he said he was skinny when he was a kid, a pole with shoes like me.
So in honor of his birthday, I tell a story that’s been told to me.
Forty three years ago, when I was two, he and I went to get the mail. His farm lane was a mile long, at the end of which was the mailbox, so you drove to check the mail. There was a gate at the end of the first part of the lane, to keep the sheep in the pasture. If you were alone and had to open the gate, you had to put the car in park, open the gate, drive through, put the car back in park, get out and close the gate.
If you were with someone, the person riding shotgun had gate duty.
So we got to the gate that day, and Granddad got out to open the gate. It being 1966, I was standing on the front seat.
I somehow nudged the car into drive, and the car and I cruised past my grandad. I don’t know at what point it dawned on him that there was not an adult in the car pulling the car through for him. Probably right away.
Had this been in the city, and I’ve read stories like this in the paper, I would have crashed into a pole, a parked car, someone’s house, or mowed down a gaggle of pedestrians.
Instead, I gushed to a stop in a muddy field.
The men folk got the car out of the field.
Despite the lack of a five-point harness, a Britax seat, and despite the metal steering wheel and granite dashboard,
I was unscathed.
Being a parent now, I know I never heard the end of the story. I have no idea if my mom, or her sisters, ever let Granddad hear the end of it.
But like I said, I don’t remember it happening, and I know the story pretty well.

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img_Jul_01_2009_07_34There’s a web site called Wordle in which you can paste a bunch of words and hit a button, and it makes a collage of the words that looks surprisingly cool.
And there’s a two-year-old we call “Rosebud.” She does the same thing as Wordle, in human linguistic form.
We talk. She hears. She gives it a try.
She can literally go on for many minutes without seeming to breathe.
Here’s probably 45 seconds that I wrote down one night:
It’s, it’s, it’s, it’s a pizza place. It’s a writing book, but it’s a writing book, it’s a writing book, but a writing book has crayons.
But it don’t have crayons in it, but it’s, it’s, it’s a pizza, it’s, it’s, it’s a quesadilla. I don’t have, it’s, it’s, it’s Carmen played the piano. It’s a piano, but it’s a pizza place. It’s a pizza place, but far from here.
Guys…it’s, it’s, it’s so crazy. The pizza place is so crazy!

Oh, it’s so crazy alright.
After that, I stopped jotting. But after that, she kept talking.

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