Archive for the ‘Stories’ Category

I was helping 9yo Jack with his biography on Alexander Hamilton.  We were discussing the island where he grew up, which Jack was pronouncing as “Saint Crux.”

“It’s ‘saint croy,’ actually,” I told him.  “Or, you could even pronounce it ‘sahn crwah…’ ”

“Sahn what?” asked Jack.

“Sahn crwah,” I replied.  “That’s how you’d pronounce it in French.”

“Oh.  No offense, Dad,” said Jack, “but I wouldn’t trust your French.  It’s terrible.”

Wow.  WTF?   Where’d that come from?  Oh, yeah.  I had told him that factoid at the park yesterday, when we talked about singing and speaking in other languages, and I confessed that Katherine would make fun of my French pronunciation because it was so bad.

“You’re right, buddy.  Let’s ask Momma later to be sure.”

“Good idea, Dad.”

Reminds me of this comic, from a blog on learning French.  You don’t need to know French to see that the only question asked of Dad is “Where’s Mom?”

Out of the mouths of babes



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Muppets Most Vomited

“Daddy, I don’t feel good.  My tummy hurts.”

These are words one never really wants to wake up to from your 6 year old, but truth be told, it was 6am, and the kids and I didn’t have anywhere to be until the PTO-sponsored showing of Muppets Most Wanted at 9:15, so we’re only talking, like, DEFCON 4 here.  With my wife out of town for the weekend, this is an easy fix: climb into bed with me and snuggle, and let’s all get some more sleep.

Twenty minutes later, though, we went to DEFCON 3.  “Daddy?  Daddy, I really don’t feel good.  My tummy still hurts.”

“Like, hungry hurts?  Or need to poop hurts?  Or, like, gonna throw up hurts?”

“Yeah.  Like gonna throw up hurts.”

WHOOP WHOOP WHOOP!  Alert!  Alert!  We are at DEFCON 1, I repeat, DEFCON 1!  Everyone up, out of the bed, get past the previous puke stain on the carpet to the bathroom, go go go move it move it MOVE IT!

My First Brilliant Foresight was preparing The Bucket — a small trash can with handles lined with a kitchen garbage bag.  Ten minutes in front of the toilet went for naught, but thanks to The Bucket, Peter Puke #1 ended up not on the den carpet.

Okay, this is not a drill, we get that now.  But, we’ve got a movie to see and $30 already paid for tickets and snack packs, as the first part of the Foley Boys Weekend.  Still, my son’s health and well-being should be of the utmost importance, right?

No.  I’m a cold-hearted bastard of a dad, apparently, because I kept telling Peter he was okay, and convinced him to suck it up so we could all go to the movies.  He wavered several times, since his natural tendency is to always vote for whatever he’s doing right now, but we all made it into the car.

We got about halfway down our street before Peter turned to me and said, “Daddy, I really don’t want to go, my tummy still hurts.”  What can you do?  Time to abort.  I apologized to Jack but said that with Peter really feeling sick, we’d have to see the movie another time.

At this point, the 9-year-old panicked.  Tears, sobbing, but-you-saids, the works.  I tried to console him as I made my three-point turn.  Somewhere between points two and three, Peter, torn apart by seeing Jack like this, sobs, “Okay, okay!  I want to go.  Let’s try it.  Let’s go, Jack.”

It warms my heart how much empathy these brothers have developed for each other.

So here we are, at the movie.  Jack is sitting with his friends.  Peter is sitting with me, separate from everyone else, “so I don’t get anyone sick.”  You got it, buddy.  As long as we’re on the aisle.  And if you EVER feel like you need to.. you know… let me know and we’re out of here.  Don’t worry about the movie, don’t worry about anything, we’ll just go go go.

I figured the movie would be distracting enough to help him get over feeling sick.  I brought him a water bottle to sip.  He didn’t even touch the popcorn or lemonade.  Just sipped, watched, and even occasionally laughed.

Then, about an hour in, he turned to me and made The Face.

You know The Face.  The twisted mouth, the raised eyebrows, the look of panic and shame.  The I’m-sick-and-I’m-gonna-throw-up-and-get-out-of-my-way Face.

WHOOP  WHOOP WHOOP Peter Puke #2 incoming WHOOP WHOOP….  all right Peter let’s go let’s go come on come on right this way go go go…

We stop at the top of the ramp.  “You’re not gonna make it are you.”  Head shake.

Aha!  Let me introduce my Second Brilliant Foresight: the plastic bag stuffed in my back pocket.  He threw up what little was in his stomach right there, in the back of the theater, in my plastic bag.  Then we walked to the restroom, him holding the plastic bag up like a horse feeder.  Which is good, because that meant he caught probably 95% of the second upchuck, ten feet in front of the bathroom.

Worst.  Dad.  Ever.

That’s all I could think as I hung out in the bathroom while Peter regained his composure.  I coerced him into coming.  I should have known better.  “I want to go home, Daddy.”  I know, son, I know.  Let me figure out how to extricate Jack.

But when we got back in the movie theater, the distraction kicked in again.  “I want to try one more time, Daddy.  One more time.”  You’re the boss, bud.  I’m out of plastic bags, though, so this is for all the marbles.  (That was a lie, though: I was armed with my emergency backup half-full popcorn bag in a pinch.  You ever catch yourself thinking: if this plane goes down, or if I fall into this alligator exhibit, or if a bomb goes off in this building, this is how I’m going to survive?  This was one of those desperate survival moments.)

We made it through the movie.  Jack and I thanked Peter about a hundred times for sticking it out with us.  I hoped that I had quarantined Peter enough to not magically infect everyone’s kids.

The rest of the day was penance for my decision-making.  Peter napped for about 3 hours while Jack played Minecraft for just as long. Nevertheless, we watched favorite shows together, played iPad games together, and otherwise huddled up for most of a rainy sick Saturday indoors.  A failed dinner attempt led to Peter Puke #3, right before bed, but once again in The Bucket — whew!

Before bed, I reminded Peter how to avoid another puke stain on our carpet.  If you have to throw up, throw up in The Bucket first, and then come find me — not the other way around.  Still, sleep for me may be tough.  After all, you ever try to swing a golf club waiting for the Peter-Puke-#4-Gotcha? 

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While we were vacationing in Door County, Wisconsin, my wife and I got into a conversation about how this part of the world is like what Cape Cod, Massachusetts used to be like before it got overcommercialized with big box stores and familiar names. We found out that this is because Door County still strictly regulates what businesses can open up on the peninsula; specifically, “they don’t allow chains.”

As we were driving back from a local art studio, Jack piped up, puzzled. “But Mama, I saw some in the corner of the studio, by the metal working shop. They had chains hanging up by the wall. I thought you said people weren’t allowed to have chains in Door County!”

It took us a while to untangle why he was concerned, and then to realize that he had never heard “chains” in the context of “chain stores,” so when we finished laughing over the mixup, we clued him in. We are definitely at the stage where sometimes we have to pause, realize this boy has not had our life experiences, and tell him things like, “if you dial 911 from an airport pay phone, even if you don’t put money in, it still works.” (But that’s a different story!)

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Three tales of bodily functions with a four year old gone horribly awry.  And here I thought Jack’s peeing exploits as a 4 year old couldn’t be topped.

The first is on the evening after I’ve returned from a 5-day business trip for marketing training.  It starts with a yell heard from the bathroom.  “CAN I HAVE SOME BOOKS, PLEASE?”  Peter has settled in to poop and wants reading material.  I figured this gave me about 5-10 minutes before I would hear, “Can you help me wipe?”

It had to be some 15 minutes later before I finally heard that trigger phrase. “Daddy?  Can you help me wipe… the poop off my foot?”  Sure, I can help with… WHAT?  This is like that joke about “Oh, your dog died.”  That bad news means there’s other bad news I haven’t heard…

Sure enough,  despite all that time on the toilet, he got up before he was quite finished.  Poop on the seat, poop on the bathmat, poop on his foot where he stepped on the poop on the bathmat, then poop on the floor in all the places he stepped.  I clean that all up and wipe him, and reflect on the fact that no amount of marketing training can really prepare you for cleaning your son’s poop off of butts, seats, mats, and feet when he fails in the bathroom.

The second story happened later that same night — apparently my 4 year old is a somnambupisst.

The boys have been asleep for an hour, and I’m half-asleep on the couch watching Patriots pre-season. Suddenly I wake up to find Jack at my side because “he has to tell me something.” He woke up to find Peter in his bedroom, with his nighttime pull-up down, PEEING on the carpet in front of him.

Sure enough, there’s a smelly wet spot (and several wet Legos… I told him he should’ve picked those up!) right in the middle of Jack’s room. I find Peter lying on the floor at the top of the stairs, looking shame-faced, and he won’t answer me when I ask him repeatedly, “WHY did you pee on Jack’s floor?” Jack tells me that Peter woke him up crying out for us first, before he wandered in and did the deed. I give Peter a new pull-up, even though his is barely wet, and he dutifully puts it on. I tell him to go back to bed and within 1 minute he’s sound asleep under the covers.  He only vaguely remembers it the next morning.

Add cleaning carpet pee stains to the list of things marketing training did not have on the syllabus.  We have no pets, and yet the bottle of Resolve has come in handy a few too many times.

Finally, a funny one that does NOT involve cleanup work, which happened the next day.  Katherine and I are sitting in the office, post-dinner, emailing and Facebooking and catching up on the world while the boys play in the playroom together.

Peter opens the door to the office, and pokes his head through the crack. “Talk to the hand!” he exclaims.  He replaces his head with his arm, and makes a little puppet with his hand. The puppet whispers: “I gotta go poop!”  Then he disappears into the bathroom while the two of us giggle uncontrollably.

My kids are SILLY. How’d they get that way? Oh. Right.

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Weeks ago:  My 7 year old eldest son Jack still gets upset when you wash his hair during tubby time, especially if water gets in his eyes.  He enjoys swimming pools if he can wear a flotation device and have us nearby whenever possible.  He can close his eyes and plug his nose and put his face in the water but it makes him splutter and gag immediately afterwards as he complains about the chlorine.

One week ago: We arrive for vacation at my parents’ condo.  Among other things, it features a swimming pool that’s 3 to 5 feet deep.  My wife brings $4 super hero goggles for each child.

Five days ago: My sons go swimming with their mother for hours.  While younger Peter wants nothing to do with the goggles, Jack loves them.  He gets better at putting his head under water and opening his eyes, thanks to the goggles.  He can touch the bottom in the 3ft and 4ft parts of the pool and finds this very exciting.

Four days ago: I go swimming with the kids after dinner.  They have learned to play Marco Polo and I teach them the “fish-out-of-water” variant that my grade school friends used.  Peter is not very fast on his floating noodle even though he can still touch the bottom in the shallow end, but we have fun.  I tow Peter all over the place, but Jack is now imitating my “torpedoes” by pushing off of the sides of the pool with his goggles on.

Three days ago: I go swimming with the kids.  Peter is cranky and leaves early, so it’s just me and Jack.  Jack introduces himself to some other kids, including one boy who has diving toys.  Soon they’re all over the pool together, with Jack learning to reach down and get the toys from the bottom of the pool.  The other boy is more comfortable in the water, though, so Jack starts pushing himself to get to the toys on the bottom of the pool faster.

Two days ago: My wife swims with the kids for another two hours despite a record fourth day of 100+ degree weather.  Jack is jumping into the pool, chasing friends, launching himself from the sides of the pool, swimming up to Peter from underwater, and generally having a blast.

Yesterday: The morning before we leave, my wife and the kids go swimming one more time for another 2 hours.  At this point Jack decides the goggles are getting in his way, and ditches them.  “Besides,” he reasons, “I can still see underwater without them, it’s just a little blurry.”  He continues gallavanting.  We shoot this video as proof of his transformation.

Today: Back home again.  For the first time ever, my son takes a shower instead of a bath at bedtime.

Yup… kids are weird.

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My wife descended the stairs, with one towel-covered pajama-bottomed boy in tow.  “Your son is upstairs hiding in his room and wants you to find him.”  This declarative sentence seasoned with a touch of exasperation, a dash of amusement, and a sprinkling of tired love.  Tubby time was over and the bedtime show needed to begin soon, lest storytime be late enough to push the actual bedtime past 8:30 into dangerous territory.

With a nod of assent I passed her on the stairs, ready for another drawn out game of hide-and-seek.  Four-year-old Peter has unfortunately become very good at the Hide while we Seek.  He sometimes eludes us for several minutes when he Doesn’t Wanna, a state with increasing frequency these days.  I reviewed my options.  In the cabinet under the bed?  Beneath a pile of covers?  Behind a door?

Fortunately it did not take long, as in this case, Peter was anxious to be found.  He leapt out of his closet, dry but still naked, with a big Boo! and giggled.

“There you are!” I said, playing it up.  “I was WONDERING where you were.”

“Wasn’t dat a good hiding place, daddy?” he said proudly, as I proceeded to gather the appropriate bedtime artifacts so we could complete the transition downstairs.

“Yes, very good in there.  I almost didn’t see you.  Let’s get your pull-up on and some jammies.”

“That was my mimicry.”

I did a slight double-take.  Wha-wha-what?  “Your what, Peter?  Did you say, ‘mimicry’?”

“Yes!  My mimicry.  Hiding in there.  It made it harder to see me.  Pretty good, huh, dad?”

No, it’s not *quite* the correct usage of mimicry… and yes, I had to look it up later to make sure it was what I thought it was.  But who cares?  Talk about a 10-cent word.  It’s enough to restore my faith in educational TV.   “Did you learn that from Wild Kratts, buddy?”

“Yes!” he said proudly.  “On Wild Kratts!”

Man, I love that show.  And PBS.

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We were watching Super Hero Squad, a mini-Marvel Universe cartoon with some subtle humor for the older generation mixed in.  (Sample: Thor rescues horse-man by turning him into another Thor.  Dialog: “A Norse is a Norse.” “Of course, of course.”  But I digress.)

Jack pointed to one of the female characters who was talking and said, “Her voice is very familiar.”

We agreed that it sounded vaguely familiar.

Jack proclaimed, “That’s Azula.  From Avatar: The Last Airbender.”

Really?  Well, he seemed sure of it.  To IMDB we go, and… ummm… wow.  Sure enough, Grey DeLisle is the voice of multiple female heroines in Super Hero Squad and the voice of Azula from Avatar.  Way to go, Jack.  Quite an ear you’ve got there.  Either that, or we let you watch waaaay too many episodes of Avatar.

Mind you, Grey DeLisle does a million voices that we’ve all heard over the years, including others Jack would recognize — like Daphne in every modern episode of Scooby Doo, Wubbzy from Wow Wow Wubbzy, Asajj Ventress and Padme from the Clone Wars cartoons, and Betsy from Curious George.  Not to mention the video games I would recognizer her from, such as the female bounty hunter voice for Star Wars: The Old Republic and now the female wizard in Diablo 3.  But still — there are a lot of famous voiceover voices out there, and Jack picked her out within minutes.

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