“I can tell when I don’t have my glasses on, or when they’re dirty. When they’re clean and I’m wearing them, everything is crispier.”
It’s 5:30am and it’s Christmas morning. I wake up because I think I hear a rattling of the stair gate — the one which we still close every night even though at this point Peter could probably open it and wander the house if he felt like it and we wouldn’t mind.
My being alert somehow wakes up Katherine too. “I thought I heard something,” I whisper to her. We strain to hear the sounds of an overjoyed child on Christmas morning, but… nothing.
We drift in and out of consciousness until shortly after 6am. Now Katherine wakes up, and she has to pee. REALLY has to pee. This is bad, because Peter has a habit of waking up about 6am whenever I leave the room to start my day. She tries really hard to hold it, but ends up grumbling as she sneaks out of our room and sits on the toilet.
Peter runs out of his room, stops in front of the gate, and gazes down the stairs. Then he turns around and sees Katherine on the toilet.
“Buddy, it’s too early,” she says. “It’s not morningtime yet. Go back to sleep.”
Still not completely awake, he turns and thump-thump-thump-thumps back to his room, crawls under the covers… and falls right back to sleep?! Katherine climbs back into bed with me until…
It’s 7:30. Both of us wake up as we hear Peter whooping and hollering from the den. Then he thump-thump-thump-thump-THUMPs his way upstairs and into our room, to show off his filled stocking. (No 4 year old moves quietly or slowly on Christmas morning.)
But where’s Jack?
Oh, here he is, working on a Lego set in the playroom. It’s the one he got on Christmas Eve from Nana and Grampa. Wow, he’s made a lot of progress. How did he get so far?
Turns out it’s because he’s been up since 5:30 — that rattle was him after all. He snuck downstairs, saw all the presents, remembered that he couldn’t open them without us and that we wanted to sleep until it was light out, and went back to his room to read Calvin and Hobbes until 6:30, then came down and played with his existing toys until we got up. He heard the whole Peter incident, too.
We totally win Christmas morning. From that point on, it was present opening, a Skype to Indiana grandparents, Pillsbury cinnamon rolls and cheesy scrambled eggs, and a relaxing morning before packing up to go visit relatives.
As a 4 year old, Peter loves to make other people laugh. He’s such a clown, with his rubber face making hilarious expressions, and his physical comedy. If he does something that makes you laugh, he’ll do it again and again, and try it on other people too.
Typically his pratfalls and goofiness have outpaced his joke-telling and wordplay. A typical knock-knock joke would be to follow up “Raccoon who?” with “The Raccoon talks to his friend, HAHAHAHAHAHA,” while you look on, amused and befuddled.
This week, however, he made a great leap forward. As we were driving around looking at some Christmas decorations, Peter commented on the inflatable Santa in someone’s yard.
“There’s a blow-up Santa,” he said. Then he gasped. “BLOW UP SANTA????” he yelled incredulously. “Oh no! KA-BOOM-SHAKA-LAKA!!!!”
We all giggled for a good minute or two.
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.
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.
I wake up and look at the clock. 4:15 am. Ha, I think. Eat your heart out, Jack Reacher. My internal clock works too.. You see, the alarm was set for 4:30.
Why 4:30? That gives me enough time to shower and load up the car while Katherine showers so we can wake the boys up and get them dressed. You know, to leave the house by 5:30. To park the car by 6:00 and get to the terminal by 6:30 to checkin for our 7:55 flight. This is known as parental travel math and we have it down to a science. And to be fair, at 4 and 7 years old the Kid Delay Constant in the equation is getting pretty low.
I’m a bit worried I needed to increase that constant. Jack has been sleeping past 8. Peter, sometimes a 5:30 or 6:00 sort of guy, has settled in to 6:30 or 7:00. But we’re traveling to visit grandparents and they’re excited. I bet I can get them going.
At 5am, as I bustle around while Katherine starts her shower, I find jack downstairs in the kitchen. Wha…??? “Hi Dad. I was just so excited about going to Indiana that I had to get up.”. A phrase you don’t hear from many Bostonians.
At 5:30 the car is almost packed and I head upstairs. I reflect that I haven’t actually awoken Peter in the morning for …months? Years??? I can’t remember when. He gets up with me. Or he doesn’t and we let him sleep. This is a big deal. I should relish this.
“Hi Daddy,” he says, sitting up, as I walk in. “Time t’ go t’Indiana now?”
They end up not napping the whole day and bouncing off the walls until bedtime at 8 local time. At least they’ll sleep late, right?
Peter was in our bed at 3:30. He was up with me at 5:30 when I sought a less kick-filled couch. But that’s okay because Jack was up too playing on the cheap iPod touch we got him for moments like this. Really? Really? You kids… are weird.
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.