Saturday, June 18, 2011

Happy Father's Day, Scott, Skip and Jim

We paid them in cash for these poses, or, as Audrey calls all money, "allowance." To observe the day, how 'bout an installment of our "Overhead" column?

Calvin: [growing frustrated while trying to move a foot stool] Eeees STUCKING!
Calvin: [racing after Audrey at school drop-off ] Audie, wait ah me! Audie wait! Audie wait!

Audrey: [sitting in passenger seat of car while I put on her shoes] I can't sit up here, right, Mom? This is a seat for someone with a BIG bum. I have a very little bum.

And here's one that set me back, not because it was cute or impish but because it was so shockingly clear. She said this the day after we played a game called "Silver Polishing Workshop," in which we cleaned all of my tarnished jewelry. I cleaned and rinsed, she buffed with a dry cloth. Now, before anyone calls this exploitative or brings up child labor law, you should know that Audrey LOVES my jewelry and getting to handle it like this for real was a big deal to her. She did such a good job that I actually bedecked myself in some of that jewelry the next day-- which I almost never do-- and thanked her for making it all sparkle.
"You're welcome," she said. "Thank you for letting me polish your jewelry with you. I really like it when you let me help you with stuff like that."

Friends, it doesn't get any clearer than that. That was almost spooky. The door of her young soul stood open for just a moment and I could see right in. Or Terry Brazelton had taken possession of my child for a moment, I'm not sure which. Either way, I felt that I was being handed something of great importance-- something I did not want to fumble. She likes helping me. Sitting at the kitchen table with a pile of cheap silver-plated earrings and my company is her idea of a great time. It will not always be so. May I be smart enough to love this while it lasts.

The preschool fair (with digressions about taxes and dirt)

Audrey loved the fair at her preschool so much she wanted to know if the fair would still be there when she came back on Monday morning. Sadly, no. The teachers would simply love to supervise a bouncy house of screaming four-year-olds every day, but it isn't possible.

And that's Calvin driving one of the fire engines that will NOT be taken out of service because we passed our property tax over-ride, thank you Arlington voters, and we still have an ambulance to drive you to the hospital, a library that's open and staffed and oh, decent schools! Thank you!! Did I just go on a tangent and use an entire year's allotment of exclamation points? Sorry!!!!!

Boy, but the kids were gritty by the end of today. When you mix dust and popsicle drips and sunscreen into the temporarily-tatooed, sweaty-sticky skin of a small child you get a resistant coating similar to that on a nylon tent. Swish them around in tepid bathwater all you want and they come out fresher, but the grime still clings, along with stubborn white streaks of SPF 50 behind the ears. Well, let them stay that way then. It's summer. They're not going to any job interviews.

Scott said it best when he compared the process of cleaning Audrey and Calvin to maintaining cast iron cookware. "They aren't clean so much as well seasoned."

Saturday, June 11, 2011

The world's best baby-carrier is... another person.

Just forget Calvin and backpacks. FOR. GET. IT. Unless you like to be bitten between the shoulder blades. What really made him furious was that Audrey (outside the frame of my video rant) was riding her bike. Calvin was incensed that we were going to give her the freedom of the road, the wind in her hair, the thrill that only a tricycle rider wearing a helmet and flanked on both sides by a fretful adult can know... and make him ride in the pack. Well I don't think so.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Tonight, we dine on pickles and olives!

Things are a bit different at dinner time when Scott's away. Instead of the five course meal I normally serve, for which I always (but always!) change into a fresh frock, we dine informally when Scott's on a business trip. My spouse has never agreed with me that a meal can be made entirely out of items stored in the refrigerator door, but I disagree. I think that a can opener, a dollop of mustard and an open mind are all that are needed to assemble a week-night supper for your young family.

A couple of evenings last week were so broiling hot that I could not bear the idea of cooking, or schlepping us all to the grocery store. So when dinner time rolled around, we ate pickles, olives, cheese, crackers, fruit salad and various and sundry other items until we were more or less full. Everyone had some fruit, vegetable and protein to their meal. Everyone was pleased. And I don't feed the kids like that every night, so what's the harm?

Amen, and pass the ketchup.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The taste of love is sweet...

Sand, sun, hotdogs, new underwear

Four days on the Cape: that was my deal. A little family vacation, nothing fancy and nothing requiring plane travel. No long drives (insert story here of childhood suffering on 1,000 mile journeys in my parents' Volkswagon Dasher) and only kid-friendly activities. We did well, really. About as well as could be expected. We remembered the kids ibuprofin this time! But we forgot... all of Scott's underwear. Had to be something, didn't it?

Provincetown being Provincetown, there are many options if you find yourself shopping for men's underwear, but those options were... not exactly what Scott typically wears, if you see what I mean. We thought about our dilemna as we ate hot dogs at John's Foot Long on the pier, and then we decided to drive to TJ Max in Orleans. Yep: we drove all the way down the Cape and went to TJ Max. And it wasn't that bad. Audrey got new flip-flops.

We had some great time at the beach, some meals that we got to eat before Calvin had to be removed from the restaurant, and no one got sick. I'm calling it a success. And I discovered a certain strange new optimism in myself when it came to thinking up stuff to do with the kids. I found that I could summon up a wild, almost reckless enthusiasm for kid activities. Counting trees. Collecting bugs. Weaving scarves out of seaweed. Anything!! Just get us to bedtime. Wear them out. Give them what they want. We're not just killing time here, we are murdering it.

Oh, and here's another great "learn" from our trip as a friend of mine likes to say: humans can safely eat sand. You can absolutely eat sand; Calvin ate BUCKETS of it and he's fine. So just go ahead if you've ever wanted to try a spoonful.