Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Is that all there is?...Santa, Jesus and Everybody...

We were at my sister in law's on Christmas eve. It is an annual ritual that we all enjoy and look forward to all year. Mrs. Narrator, to see her sister; the Boy and I for the wondrous spread she puts out every year of groovy snacks and finger foods of every type imaginable and even more exciting deserts. And Izzy gets the chance to perform in front of a captive audience that hangs on her every word.
She had been spending he time frightening everybody with a flashlight.
Izzy:"I'm scary with this flashlight. Daddy, you try to scare me with the flashlight."
Daddy: "It's not going to be too scary if you know it's coming, right?"
Izzy: "No, just do it. It'll be scary alright."
Daddy:(holding flashlight under chin) "I am the ghost of Isobel's father...oooohhh..."
Izzy's Aunt called out that it was time to open presents.
Izzy:"Very scary Daddy. Now let's go have a look at what I always wanted."

Christmas day started early around our house this year...very early. The boy started coming in at 3:30 a.m.(NOT and exaggeration) and proceeded to come back every hour on the hour until we relented and finally got up at a quarter to seven. Izzy to her credit, had to be roused from her bed. And so we made our way downstairs, two racing-two stumbling and complaining about the time and the need for caffeine, to discover the true meaning of Christmas...gifts. Because that really is what it's all about stuff- and how much stuff you can get. He who dies with the coolest crap wins, right?
The living room was packed full with more crap for the kids then I frankly, remember buying. And the kids lost their minds...that's really the best way to describe it...and the kids lost their minds. I remember the first instance of a sound not unlike the ripping of paper, followed by a high pitched sound in the neighbourhood of high C and not much after that. I held a video camera, figuring to catch all of this merriment for posterity. The footage is all but useless. Blurs of whipping arms and that damned high pitch whine is all that I managed to capture.
And the kids lost their minds...and why not? I don't think any of us were any different. The gifts have changed along with the price tags but the madness is the same I'm certain. I don't doubt for a second that somewhere in my past is a relative who went mad with joy Christmas morning when he found out he got a pair of wool socks, so who are we to be any less joyous?
Isobel is my child without any doubt. She had ripped through three or four wrapped packages and was on to the next before the Boy had even finished reading the back of his first. The Boy who is incidentally, meticulous and careful in his gift opening, has a line of parentage separate form Izzy and though his Grandmother always sends a little something for Izzy, the simple fact remains that he gets more presents. I was in a similar situation when I was younger and it kinda bugged me back then. it was not lost on Izzy either.
After she had gone through all hers she looked at all he had left and asked, "Is that it? Is that all there is for me?"
I tried to explain to her about The Boy's grandmother.
"She likes to send presents at Christmas time and she sent you something too. She didn't have to but she did. And it wasn't that long ago that you were more interested in the paper than the gifts."
"I know that Daddy but now I like gifts. Are there any more for me?"

I find it strange and ironic that the entire build up to Christmas, all the guessing and hoping and buying and love and heartache, is over within five minutes of the first piece of paper being torn...and the kids lost their minds...

There are a couple of things that happened this year that really put Christmas into perspective for me. Were were sitting around the dinner table at my In-Law's place on Christmas day, after coffee and cake when Izzy suggested we sing. Like the miserable adults we are, nobody wanted to. Like the retired and nothing to lose guy he is, Mrs. Narrator's father started singing and shamed us all into joining him. we started off with Christmas carols that nobody knew all of the words to and meandered into The Beatles 'Yellow Submarine'(SumBarine Isobel corrected us) until we finally landed on 'On top of Old Smokey'
The unbridled happiness and zeal that was firmly displayed on Izzy's face was a look I will never forget. She seemed to get more out of the singing than any of the gifts she received...and she loved her gifts. She was pumping her hand across her chest like an old drunken sailor, absolutely rapt with joy. Of course, my camera was nowhere near...
The second happened only today. We were down in the basement, Izzy playing and me on the treadmill when I fully took in the glory that was my daughter.(also no camera) From bottom to top as follows; pink cow-girl boots, flower print short pyjamas and matching flower print tank top and Santa hat that is at least eight sizes to big. She wandered about the basement with a brown paper shopping bag making fart noises and thanking the lord.
"Phhttt, thank-you Jesus. Phhttt, thank-you Jesus. Phhht, not now Jesus, Phhhttt Oh Jesus, Phhhttt, come on Jesus, Phhhttt, thank-you Jesus."
...god bless us everyone...

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Daddy's little ham...A Christmas Carol...

Mrs. Narrator had come home from grocery shopping and Izzy grabbed the toilet paper and disappeared. We found her putting her doll to bed on it, complete with pillow and blanket.
Daddy: "Put the toilet paper back. It's not a bed for your doll, it's toilet paper."
Izzy: "It's not a bed, it's just for her to lie down on because she is a very sickly Asian."
Daddy:"A what? A sickly what?"
Izzy: "She has a sickness. A very sickly Asian kind of sickness and this helps her feel better."

It is that time of year again. The Seasonal glut of food and booze and presents and late bedtimes for the kids and sleep deprivation for the folks. And I love every second of it. There are far too few things in this life that are equal to the unbridled joy and lunacy of kids on Christmas morning. Watching the Romanesque orgy of avarice that possesses every kid from here to Tucumcari on the morning of December 25 warms my old frozen heart.
That being said, who was the bozo that said, "We're gonna have this Holiday, right and on this holiday we're going to give the kids pretty much everything they have ever wanted-with no strings attached. (OK, with you so far. Sounds like a gas) And then we're going to take these gifts and we're gonna wrap 'em up in colourful paper that we're gonna let the kids tear into shreds and throw around the house and we're not gonna care. (OK, a little messy but what the hell the kids get to have have a break too, right?) Then we're gonna let the kids eat crappy, sugary sweet food all day and run around like lunatics and we're not gonna do anything about it. (Man the kids are gonna love this one) And now here's the best bit. The kids are going to wake up at at a quarter past three on the morning of Christmas and the will be unable to get back to sleep and will continually ask 'can we get up yet?' (Wait, what's the middle part again?) Eventually you will relent and give into the kids by uttering the traditional holiday morning blessing. ("Alright, we can get up. Oh Christ, is it really six thirty?")
I loved being in the Christmas pageant as a kid and the apple has not fallen far from the tree. Izzy's very first Christmas show was last week. The drawback of working the night shift is missing these little gems as they actually unfold. The miracle of the modern age that we live in is the digital camera that Mrs. Narrator took with her.
Wow...is the word that instantly came to mind. As in wow if there was ever any doubt as to my role in her parentage it is gone now. Izzy is a super star of the highest order...OK I'm bragging a little but the fact remains she commanded the stage. Leonard Malten would have said her axe swinging was as realistic as he had ever seen. Pauline Kael would have made note of how she owned the stage by actually edging the kids on her side off of it and Gene Shalit would have noted that she may not know how to read but that Isobel knows what the number three looks like. Her hand gestures at the end of the performance (completely unscripted and improved I might add) brought a flair to the show that would have been that much less if they had been missing...The video itself is making the rounds in the family and I promise to post it up here if I am able. For now, let your imagination take you to a gym in southern Ontario, where you can watch a four year old girl in a red skirt and a green shirt live out the highs and lows in the life of five little Christmas trees...

And now a Christmas carol written by the Boy, The original occupant of the Fuzzy Blue Chair. Had me in stitches when he first sang it and will still make me smile whenever I hear it...enjoy.

Jingle Bells, Batman smells
Robin laid an egg.
The Batmobile lost a wheel
And the Joker got lost in some tall grass.

Merry Christmas from all of us at Wisdom from The Fuzzy Blue Chair!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Izzy and Buzz Aldrin...who wrote this story, anyway?...

Winter is finally upon us and there had been a sudden drop in temperature after a few days of rain. It was cold and snowy now and we all felt it.
Izzy:"Daddy, I'm cold. Real cold."
Daddy:"I'm not surprised. It's cold out. Cold and damp...it's the kind of cold that goes right through you. Gets right into your bones." (I felt a little like Quint from Jaws as I spoke of the cold)
Izzy: "I've been eating snow! BELCH."

I hate winter. Loathe it. But the kids love it as all kids seem to. Izzy and the Boy are both at home in it and they both seem impervious to the cold. A trait which came from neither Mrs. Narrator or I.
Now sometime during the summer months, Isobel got a donation bag of clothes from one of the kids she used to go to daycare with. Before we get cards and letters asking about our financial situation, the donations have been happening for as long as Izzy has been in day care and to anyone who is the parent of a little girl that changes her outfits as much as Izzy does, it's a godsend.
In this particular bag of clothes, were two snow suits. The girl who donated these clothes, though older, is not much bigger than Izzy so I was a little perplexed when out came not one but two snowsuits that were big enough to fit her and my daughter both...Since the arrival of these suits, Isobel has spoken of virtually nothing but winter and snowmen and snow angels.
Are snow angels snow men that are dead? she asked me.
"Sure are." I said. But I had to step back and ponder the brilliance of this line of thinking. I had never heard this question before nor thought of it myself...it's scary sometimes just how smart she really is...
"Daddy?" she began.
"Yes my delicate tulip?" I replied.
"Daddy what's dead?" she asked...
So for the remainder of the summer and all through the fall and Indian summer and fall again that seemed to go on forever, Izzy's willing it to happen finally did and the snow fell. I picked her up from school and she could barely contain the excitement of being able to make a snow angel, her very first.
She ran from the car on a direct course to an open snowy spot in the backyard, her gigantic snow suit threatening to swallow her up as she ran.
"Weeeeeeee-hawwww!" she yelled as she ran.
She walked around for a bit, like a dog flattening it's bed and then proceeded to flop on her back and begin top move her arms and legs. Giggling and laughing as she did it. And then a scream ripped the air.
"Daddy!" she screamed. "Daddy! Daddy!!!!!!!!!!"
Horrid things flashed momentarily through my mind until I realized, thins was our backyard. How much danger could she possibly be in. Still I hurried to see what was wrong.
"Daddy!" she bellowed and cried again, worry in her voice. It must have seemed forever, the minute and half it took me to walk from my car to where she was in the back yard
There she lay, on her back like a cross between a turtle and Buzz Aldrin on the surface of the moon. Gigantic tears mixing with clumps of snow running down her face. I leaned over her and I could see the nervous excitement and fear and exuberance all crossing her face. It was an amusing picture.
"What's the problem, baby doll?" I asked.
She looked around and whispered, "I can't get up."

My favourite time with Izzy are story times at bedtime. Not because I love reading to my kids...which I do but because I have tried over the years to warp the behaviour of my children with the stories I read them. It is my right as a parent to deceptively try to get my children to do my bidding.
If there is a part of the story where a character does something particularly rude, I will insert a more polite scenario. For example, the Big Bad Wolf used to knock on the door and wait to be invited in and Goldilocks always cleaned up after herself before she left the house. O.K. so neither kid actually ever bought it and I stopped doing it. But I figured if it worked just once, then what the hell?
One night I figured I would give it a go again to see what happened. We were reading "Pinkalicious", one of Izzy's favourite books about a little girl who becomes obsessed with the pink cupcakes she and her mother made and eats so many of them, she turns pink. In my telling of the story however, every time she does something she's not supposed to, I read that she either did what she was supposed to or that she did the wrong thing and knew she would have to live with the consequences.
Izzy kept looking at the front of the book and back to me.
"What's the matter?" I asked.
"Is that what it really says? That's not what Mommy said when she read it. Is that really what it says?"
"Oh yes," I said magnanimously.
"Who wrote this book?" she asked indignantly.
"Why?" I asked
"This book sucks."

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A Return to Crap...Snow falling on Concrete...

The brilliance that is my progeny:
I had just gotten out of the shower when Isobel flung open the door.
Izzy: "Daddy, I want to tell you something that doesn't matter."
Daddy:"What? You want to what?"
Izzy: "When you are wearing pants, THEN you have clothes on."
Daddy: "What? I don't understand what you are talking about."
Izzy: "Never mind, it doesn't matter."

"Daddy," she started to ask me last week. "Is crap a bad word?"
"No," I said. "I don't think crap is a bad word."
"Even for me?" she asked.
"Even for you." I said.
"My teacher said I shouldn't say crap because it's a bad word."
"Well," I began. "What's O.K. at home isn't always O.K. at school and if your teacher says you can't say crap, then you can't say crap at school. I don't care if you say crap at home. It's O.K. here at home."
"That's good," she said "I've gone back to saying crap, you know."
A few days later Isobel insisted on wearing a tank top under a sweater to school one day. In the middle of a nasty December cold snap. Both Mrs. Narrator and I told her how cold it was outside and how cold she would be all day if she didn't put on something warmer. Sometimes you have to let them, learn the hard way.
By the time I got to her after school (after approximately six seconds outside) her skin was taking on a blueish hue and she could barely speak over the teeth chattering.
"So your tank top days are over 'til next summer. Too cold, right? You'll be lucky if you don't get pneumonia." (Another vastly illogical parental chestnut that I have been waiting my entire life to use.)
"What's m-m-memonia?" she chattered.
"You get really sick." I said trying to sound concerned and fatherly.
Like how sick?" she asked, the colour starting to return to her cheeks. "like have to stay inside in bed sick?"
"Oh yes," I said.
"And would you get a temperature?"
"Burning up," I said.
"You g-g-go on fire?" she shivered again. "Holy c-c-crap, you'd burn the bed."

So Izzy was downstairs in the basement with me again, wrapped up in the old silver tree skirt again and knocking stuff over while "Queen Isobel" berated her lazy subjects again. It was a lot of;
"You people just don't get it." Crash.
"You will be punished!" Crang.
"You will respect me and listen!" Wham.
I was preparing to say something about the mess that she was creating and how she and her subjects had better start cleaning it up...and then something odd happened. The Avril Lavigne song "I'm with you" (Damn Cold Izzy calls it) came on the ipod (Yes thank-you it is on my ipod...for Izzy and me) and Izzy closed her eyes, put her head back and started turning slowly to the music. It was strange and beautiful all at once and it made me think of someone turning on a snowy day, catching snowflakes on their tongue as they turned round and round. I don't know why but that was the image that went through my mind.
My kids are brats. As was I and my siblings brats to our parents and Mrs. Narrator was to her her parents and your kids are brats and so were you and so are everyone else's kids. Brats, brats, brats... But they are precious, kids are. The most meaningful thing you will ever do in your life is raise your kids. I don't think I know anything more about parenting than I did four years ago, the only difference is now I feel like a Dad.
The holidays are coming up...spoil your kids. They deserve it.