Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Is that it?...What do you give the girl who has everything?...

We were playing a game in which she was evil. With all things evil comes an evil laugh, of course.
Isobel: "My friend Candace thinks she has an evil laugh.
Daddy: "And?"
Isobel: "It's not evil at all. Her laugh just sounds mad. HA! HA! HA! That's what her laugh sounds like."
Daddy: "And what does an evil laugh sound like?"
Isobel: "You know, evil. Like a sister."
Daddy: "A sister?'
Isobel: "Like the Grinch laughed a sister laugh."
Daddy: "Do you mean SINISTER?"
Isobel: "Maybe."
Daddy: "Show me your evil laugh and I'll tell you if it is sinister."
Isobel: "Muahahahah!!! (the laugh was punctuated with a small poot)
Daddy: "I guess you laughed a little more evil than you thought?"
Isobel: "Was it a sister laugh?"
Daddy: "It smells pretty sister."

This is the way the world ends...not with a bang but a whimper...
True words especially at this time of year. It seems kids and some adults as well, spend months and months gearing up and preparing for the big holiday, the holiest of the holy gift giving glut, only to have it end in a heartbeat. Much the same was true around our house this Christmas.
Both kids dutifully wrote their letters to Santa this year as soon as the reminder signs went up at the post office (shortly after Halloween if memory serves). The Boy is starting to catch on that his Mother and I may actually be the fat man but wrote a persuasive and descriptive letter none the less. He might be getting older but he isn't fool enough to risk his Christmas loot on a hunch.
The Sears toy catalogue's arrival usually signals the actual beginning of the Christmas season and the kids begin pouring over it day after day, making their lists, checking, revising... ah the endless revising...I remember it well. All the hoping, the wishing and planning seems to go on forever and if you think about it, kids are caught up smack in the middle of all the crap you always hear people bitching about. "Halloween just ended and they are putting up the Christmas crap already!"
And though that statement may equate exasperation to you and me, to a kid it is desperation. The clock is ticking and the Fat man is watching! So for two solid moths they are inundated with commercials and ads about the best and latest and must haves for the year and they fall for it hook line and sinker. My kids too, for the most part.
But for all their excitement, all the build up over those two months, it's over like that. Not over with a big exciting KABANG! like a balloon popping but usually like a balloon running out of air. Flickering around the room for a minute or two and then farting out the last of its pizazz in a corner somewhere.
Izzy was the first one up and was so overcome with excitement, she began to open her presents before anyone else had come into the living room. Fifteen minutes later she sat in the middle of a pile of shredded multi-coloured paper with a dejected look on her face.
It wasn't that she didn't get what she wanted, she did. "I ordered this on the computer!" she exclaimed as she opened one of her packages. It just seems now that she had built up Christmas to be this massive get everything be happy all day kind of affair. It wasn't and never is but I don't think anyone ever told her that...how can you?
Before this turns into something maudlin, it isn't. Christmas was a wonderful happy time this year. And Izzy and The Boy were totally spoiled and totally grateful and totally happy with every present they got. This was the first Christmas that Izzy actively participated in. We didn't guess at anything this year, she told us everything ( or nearly everything) that she wanted, she made up her own toys r us wish list and that is what we picked from. I just think you have a tendency to build things up in your mind and when they don't turn out the way you envision them, it puts a bit of a hole in your spiritual parachute. Not anything life threatening but maybe a slight nick in the armour.
But as I said, it was a happy and warm occasion for all of us and if I take away anything, any memories of this year's holiday it will be A) The Boy, for as old as he is getting, will still squeal with delight in a register that is nearly inaudible when he gets a particularly exciting gift. Like and XBOX 360 with kinnect. B) The Boy is a master of Lego. he gets it every year and if we are at a relative's house, he will have built the Lego before we leave to go home. Regardless of the duration of our stay or the size of the Lego. He also know the price of virtually every piece of Lego over $150.00, much to the delight of everyone. (Particularly kind Aunts who buy said Lego) C) Isobel will naturally gravitate to the most artistic and basic of her Christmas presents regardless of all the cool electronical things she got. Mp3 players with video capabilities and Barbie Blackberry like learning toys are nowhere near as cool as purses you can colour yourself or a Barbie head who's hair you can style. Or even better turning yourself into the tattooed lady with a few stencils and a handful of markers...But it is about the kids after all, right? Maybe she'll lend me one of the markers to scribble out my credit card bill.

I mentioned somewhere in one of these posts that Izzy had a fully developed sense of humour from very early on. I think I mentioned it...maybe I didn't, I am getting on after all. I seem to remember saying that all she would need to have her own television show would be her own laugh track...Now she has one. Courtesy of The Boy's aunt. Since Christmas Morning we have been applauded for monumental feats such as 'The Pouring of The Cereal' and 'The Mid Morning Exercise'.
She now has her own game show where she is the host and the minions laugh at all her jokes.(the minions must be rejoicing for the voices that we can all hear now) The skill testing questions are met with applause and cheers for a correct answer or the familiar losers 'WAH-wah' for incorrect answers. I don't want to say the game is rigged but I am on such intimate terms with the 'WAH-wah' sound that I am starting to hear it in my sleep.
There are rim shot sounds and whistles and breaking glass and gunshots and many other sound effects that you would expect to find one of these things. Today I noticed her staring at it and I could see the wheels turning. I went back to whatever I was doing when the wheels stopped.
"(Fart noise) "Thank-you Jesus. (Scream) Thank-you Jesus (Fart noise) Thank-you Jesus (Scream) Thank-you Jesus."
It was really just a matter of time...I can't wait 'til school starts again.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Endless Christmas...It's a Miracle...

It has been an odd week for her. She will go from full on, losing her mind hyper behaviour to full on sobbing in the space of a couple of minutes. I asked her about it.
Daddy: "What's going on with you?"
Isobel: "What do you mean?"
Daddy: "You're acting crazy. One minute you're running around out of control, the next you're crying. What is the matter with you?"
Isobel:(changing subject) "Daddy, does Santa see everything?"
Daddy: "That's what I hear."
Isobel: "How?"
Daddy: "Magic, I think. Magic snowball or something. That's what I heard on the TV."
Isobel: "So if I was bad and acting crazy he would see it?"
Daddy: "Definitely."
Isobel: "And if I was really sad, he would see that too? And that might make him forget I was bad?"
Daddy: "I don't think it works that way..."
Isobel: "Yes!"

Christmas is a family time, that's what they say. Time to reflect on the year that's been and time to ponder the future that lies ahead. Time to bask in the warmth of home and hearth and time to watch the joy and delight in the eyes of your children as they unwrap those special little somethings that they had been hoping for all year.
Maybe your family gets to enjoy that Jimmy Stewart saccharin and I hope somebody does but around here, Christmas has an altogether different aura about it...When I was a kid I don't remember going to anyone's house for Christmas. I'm sure we did at some point but I have no memory of it. I remember New Year parties at our house and at my Grandparents house that have left a ring of excess and drunken revelry around the ozone layer like a ring of dirt around a bathtub. But Christmas I think we stayed at home. Destroyed the sparkly packages with reckless abandon and burnt the paper in the backyard. We didn't have a fire place, we were poor...After my parents split up Christmas became mobile and has remained so ever since.
I went from Mother's house to Father's house. By this time my sister had moved out on her own and so it was off to her place first, from my Mother's apartment, to my Father's house. There was a time, when my parents were still together but not getting on very well that they sent me to live with my Grandmother(one of the most important and influential people in my life but that is another story) and so had to go see her for presents and tea and biscuits. Naturally this meant that we had to also visit with my Mother's mother...thank god we brought her home with us. By this time it was Boxing Day and we had a dinner with my Mother's ex in laws. Thy were after all, still my Sister's relatives and it was quite a tolerant and progressive thing for us to do, considering the social morays of the time.
As I grew older, I met friends and girlfriends alike and managed to squeeze some sort of holiday interaction in with all of them...I swore that if I had a family of my own, the holidays would be on OUR terms and not based on someone else's dinner schedule.
Oh some where the world is a perfect place, where children are well behaved and appreciate all that they have and fathers are listened to (and heeded) and nobody does anything but spend time with their own on Christmas day and laze about enjoying each other's company at a leisurely pace. The smell of turkey and contentment hangs in the air and all is good and right and pure...somewhere...not here.
As a general rule I love the holidays I just wish we'd get to see more of them....So stop watches at the ready? Here we go. Christmas eve we begin the festive season at my sister in law's house. Her and her partner put on an excellent spread that The Boy and I (and Izzy now too) stuff ourselves on plate after plate, year after year. There are cocktails and nog and finger foods and cocktails and the main course and cocktails and a trip to the dessert cart and more cocktails and some tea and then the prezzies and more drinkies and occasionally, even a nice bottle of malt for me! O.K. so there isn't that much booze but the revelry and merriment flow freely there and we all leave full and content and happy. It is the kick off of the season for all of us and it wouldn't feel right if it didn't happen.
Next is the BIG day, the morning after the night before, the Fat Man's visit come to pass! Christmas is great when you are single or even at the beginning of a relationship when all is sunshine and roses up the yin yang but to really appreciate Christmas, to truly get what it's all about I think you need to have kids...or at least ready access to them. There is no shame in their unabashed joy. It's my favourite bit, watching them lose their minds. One of my fondest memories is of a Christmas morning a couple of years ago, when she first started to get what it was all about, Izzy opened a gift and exclaimed with glee "I didn't even know I wanted this!"
Then the clock begins and we are on a deadline. My father's by around lunch time so we can get to her parent's for supper and still give both a decent visit. With getting everybody focused enough to get ready to leave as well as he actual getting ready part of that equation it leaves the kids with about six and a half minutes to play with their new loot.
It's off to my Father's then for some single malt and prezzies followed by belittling conversation and finger pointing and then it's a short hop and skip to Mrs. Narrator's folks place for the traditional German/Dutch Christmas. Knockwurst and sauerkraut served in a wooden shoe, accompanied by a hearty round of belittling conversation and finger pointing followed by eventual surrender and complete collapse. And presents, lots and lots of presents. Like the Sudetenland. Isobel is beginning to cut quite a striking figure in the her spiked helmet...I might be exaggerating a tad.
We get home at least an hour past the two hours past the kids bedtime that we swore we wouldn't stay beyond. But who's keeping track? We arrive full and tired and laden with gifties for all. It's off to bed for the next day is boxing day and it ain't over yet.
My sister is a lot like Mrs. Narrator's sister. An unbelievable amount of food packed into a minuscule amount of time. Too much time to fill the plate and not enough time to empty it generally equals indigestion...every year. I almost always have to work the following day so our visits are generally cut short...this is not a bad thing, three days of solid eating has worn on me by the end and I start to get comatose about an hour after we eat...
By the end of it all the kids have managed to play with there new stuff very little. All because we constantly have somewhere to go. If we got The Boy a video game, we had to monitor how much he could play before we left. If he got really into it, became focused on it, it would be nearly impossible to get him away from it and why shouldn't he play with it? It got to a point when we put our foot down, sort of. We spent more time running around to be with other people than we did with the four of us. So we started trying to get my folks to come over to our house and we didn't adhere quite so strictly to the times we needed to be at the Grandparent's house. It has worked out well for the most part. My sister and Mrs. Narrator's sister are both chronically late so were hardly in a position to enforce holiday times.
I'm certain there are people who travel farther than we do and who's schedules are more hectic than ours during the holidays and I feel their pain, really I do but if I there is a point to this, if I can say anything important for this time of year it's this-don't forget what it's really about, your kids...your partners or spouses (as the case may be)...and if you're a little better off than the next group...maybe help them a bit too. It's once a year, try to be nice to each other...and thank christ my Mother lives in Florida for the winter and doesn't celebrate Christmas until July. We'd really be screwed for time otherwise...

I have had many theological discussions with my children. Izzy in particular. Thy usually begin with the easy stuff...What is god? Who was jesus? Do you believe in god? Standard questions I'm guessing.
I have always tried to be honest with these sorts of questions without forcing what I believe down their throats. Though that is my right as a parent isn't it?
Izzy and I were watching some show on the T.V. and I and I made a flippant comment about the baby jesus.
"A cross is the sign of Jesus Christ" she said.
"In most circles." I replied.
"Is Jesus Christ god?" she asked
"Well that depends what you believe," I said "there are those who believe that he was the son of..."
"What do you believe Daddy?" she interrupted.
I thought about this one for a bit. I knew there are kids she goes to school with that go to church and follow all the teachings and trappings therein and I know Isobel wants to fit in and be liked so the way I answered this could be much more important that just an off the cuff answer.
"Because I believe...you know in god." she said before I had a chance to answer.
"Oh yeah?" I asked
"Yep," she said. I talk to the sky sometimes. You know talking to god and all that."
"Oh yeah?" I said.
"Yep, I looked up to the sky and asked for an apple. I came in the house and opened the fridge and there were some apples." She said matter of factly.
And who says miracles don't happen anymore?

From all of us at Fuzzy Blue Chair to all of you, The very Best of the Season to you. No matter what you call it. Be safe, be happy, be together

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

When the kids aren't stupid anymore...He puts what? In where?

She was being affectionate. More affectionate than she normally is toward me. She leaned in to give me a kiss. When I bent down to get the kiss, she burped, mostly in my face. Howls of laughter soon followed.
Isobel: "I burped at your face!"
Daddy: "You burped IN my face. That's not very nice."
Isobel: "Can I have my kiss now?"
Daddy: "OK." (Leaning in again)
A second burp was delivered to my face in earnest. Followed by more howls of laughter.
Daddy: "Hey now!"
We sat for a time and a burp of my own bubble up and passed through my lips.
Daddy: "Gimme a kiss."
Isobel: "No way!"
Daddy: "What? Why not. You wanted a kiss from me a minute ago."
Isobel: "That was different, I wanted you to smell my burp. You had YOUR burp now. I do not want to get your breath all over me."

I was a peeker of Christmas presents...well maybe more of a weak willed non-peeker. I wanted to have a look, desperately but something would ultimately prevent me from doing so. Likely the thought of my Mother flaying the skin off of my ass with whatever was close enough to hit me with. I remember one year my brother and I actually crossed the line and looked in my parents closet. (It might have been just me but I recall an accomplice) I remember waking up that Christmas morning knowing full well what would be waiting under the tree for me and I remember feeling empty and kind of ripped off because all of the excitement had been let out of this mind blowing experience. I got A Planet of the Apes tree house adventure set and a couple of Big Jim Wolf Pack action figures. I played with them all day and loved them and played with them until the eventually wore out. But for a long time, it gnawed at me that the experience of getting them could have been just that much better if I hadn't known they were coming. I think my brother continued to snoop for many Christmases after that...he could always do it and leave virtually no evidence but for me that was the last time. I liked the surprise more...the getting and the giving of them...still do.
Why the jaunt down memory lane? Apart from the fact that I am hurtling toward middle age and random flashes of mostly insignificant mental pablum are par for the course now, Izzy is fast becoming Daddy's little girl and a budding peeker in her own right. She started coming downstairs while I am on the treadmill again. At first I was chuffed about it. Glad of the company and then I thought about it...She hasn't been downstairs with me since the summer and she hasn't actually been anywhere near me the whole time she is down there. She has put on her usual costumes and picked up her usual props and laid them out in a careful, and in a planned manner but I didn't actually see her playing with anything.
I do remember a conversation with her the other day though.
"Daddy?" she asked.
"Are you Santa?" she asked, looking a little worried about the response she might get.
"Of course not." I said not lying.
"But how come If Santa makes all the toys, I get presents from Santa and you and Mummy?"
'God-damn," I thought. "If she is throwing out reasoning and logic like that at five, by the time she is a teenager I am completely screwed.'
"Well you see," I began. "Santa makes all the toys in his workshop but he knows that sometimes Mummies and Daddies are just busy."
"Daddy, what does that even mean?" Isobel puzzled.
"That's not what I mean," I sputtered, fumbling for an answer. "What I mean is that sometimes you mention things that you want and Mummy or I see them while we are out and we buy them for you and Santa knows what you want already so he doesn't bring you those things and those are the ones you get from us."
"Is that true?" she asked.
"I don't know," I said. "It feels like the truth."
"Well you're definitely not Santa, are you?" she said a little exasperated.
"Nope." I said, not lying.
Shortly after this exchange she was downstairs with me, pretending to play. With a sudden strange burst of logic, it dawned on me that if she wasn't playing she was doing something else. And since she was only five, it couldn't have been too sinister...I hoped.
I went downstairs after I had put her to bed to see for myself and sure enough, my suspicions were correct. Her costumes and toys were all laid out like the ruse they were intended to be, my old cane, the Mrs. Claus hat and various bags and boxes all strewn about as a series of stumbling blocks and pit falls. And there in the back room, was clear evidence of snoopery. All the Christmas boxes had been ripped open and rifled through. (The fine art of snooping undetected will come with practice...I'm certain her uncle can help with this) I understood the logic she used in going through the boxes that contained the Christmas decorations, Christmas crap...perfect place to hide presents. And if you think of it, what a brilliant place to keep the Chrimbo prizes? Who would look in the empty boxes of decorations for a present? Isobel, that's who. The kid is devious... Dr. Moriarty's illegitimate daughter.
The other end of the scale, is The Boy. He who loves a surprise as much as me and has very little interest in ruining the surprise...even if you offer to tell him what his gifts are. He enjoys his own surprises however, he has no trouble letting the cat out of the bag for anyone else's surprise.
The first Christmas I spent in this house, before Mrs. Narrator and I were even married, (that's us being sinful on the lord's birthday) I had decided to replace the squalid food encrusted Korean war issue microwave oven with something a little more snappy looking and more modern. For the record that wasn't the only thing I got her that year, I did get her fun things too, they just escape my memory at the moment.
At any rate, I didn't drive at the time and so begged a ride from a work mate who happened to be going to the store I was getting the microwave from. I fought my way through the crowds and got the stainless steel beauty. I was proud of myself for buying something useful and ultra modern looking for the house and super pleased that it was and would be a total surprise for her on Christmas morning.
She was making dinner as I walked in the door.
"Don't turn around." I said.
Mrs. Narrator did not turn and would remain oblivious to what I had gotten her. The Boy (who was all of about five if I remember) walked up to investigate. I put a finger to my lips, motioning for him not to say anything to his mother. He put a finger up to his lips and said,
"Holy crap, Sid bought a new microwave!"
"It's not a microwave," I said. "It's just in a microwave box."
"Why would you put something else in a microwave box?" he asked.
And you wondered where his sister got the logic from...
It became the Christmas Mummy got a blender that looked like a microwave. We still have the microwave to this day. I have made the mistake a couple of times of telling him what I have gotten his Mother for Christmas and he has ratted me out nearly every time. There is no malice in it, he just is excited to see the people he loves get things he thinks they will like. Waiting for pesky things like gift giving holidays to roll around is inconsequential. No one has ever had hurt feelings and so all is good and right.
Happiness has no time constraints, joy happens now. The gifts remain locked in the trunk of my car... and none of us ever mentions to The Boy what anyone is getting for Christmas...ever.

We were reading a story about trains the other night and she stopped at a word she was unsure of.
"What`s that say?" she asked.
"Coal." I replied.
"What's coal?" she asked again.
"What Mummy is going to get in her stocking for Christmas." I said trying to be oh so clever.
"What?" she asked "What...what does...wait what now?"
"When I was young and when my parents were young and their parents and so on and so on, if you were naughty at Christmas time Santa would give you a lump of coal in your stocking."
"So what is coal?" she asked a third time.
"Long time ago, they used coal to heat your house, they burned it in the furnace and that would heat your house." I said.
"So if Santa gave you coal, you could stay warm in your house?" she asked.
"What...wait, what ?" I sputtered.
"Why would Santa give you something good if you were bad?"
"You're missing the point," I said. " "Instead of toys you would get...ahh never mind." I said defeated. It would likely be too hard to explain and wouldn't translate well. I have been showing her videos of the Krampus, the European monster that takes the bad kids away to some god forsaken place, since she was small. What fear can a lump of coal possibly hold?
As I kissed her goodnight and put off her light she called out to me.
"Yes Pick?"
"What the hell is a stocking?"

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Izzy writes the songs...Beauty AND Brains...

She has the ability to scare the hell out of me. She isn't aware that she has it because she will try (unsuccessfully) to scare me all the time. Sometimes I will wake up with a start and she will be there just staring at me while I'm sleeping. I think she might be afraid to wake me up...or maybe she just wants to be weird and creepy. Either is OK. I woke to such an encounter one morning while Mrs. Narrator was off on a roller derby weekend.
Daddy: "Whaaa!" (waking with a start)
Isobel: "You were dreaming about me."
Daddy: What!?! What are you talking about?"
Isobel: "You were dreaming about me, while you were sleeping. I can tell."
Daddy: "Oh yeah? What was I dreaming about you?"
Isobel: "You were dreaming that I am one eyed and I was wearing a pink dress. Then I showed you a picture."
Daddy: "Oh yeah? What picture did you show me?"
Isobel: "This one (holding up picture) This is my rocket. This is HIS one eye and these are his gums. Which are bleeding."

They say that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree and this week has shown that in our case, it seems to be true. Isobel has re-invented herself as a songwriter...a bonafide tune smith in the making. Music and lyrics, the total package and why not? She has always jumped in with both feet, eyes firmly shut. And the real money is in the songwriting royalties anyway...
I remember not that long ago, my father telling me that I was constantly making up dumb assed songs as a kid.
"You were always making up dumb assed songs when you were a kid." he said. (See?)
I do remember making up songs...We were not a particularly musical family, at least not our branch of it. There were many musicians on both sides of the clan but no one in my family unit played anything. BUT despite that,we were still a musical family. Music was a huge part of our household. There always seemed to be a radio playing somewhere and both my parents would take refuge in their own favourite music as their marriage slowly crumbled around them. (As a result, I know the lyrics to nearly Every pre-1980 John Denver and Barbara Streisand album...go figure)
At any rate, there are two songs from my youth that stick with me...not the words but the message, the emotion that went with them. I got a free kitten at the stock yards-the result of a field trip. I believe every kid came home with some form of livestock they did not arrive with. We already had a cat and my Mother told me as soon as she saw the kitten that I could keep the cat if our family cat liked it. I put the two of them in a room together and by supper time I was carrying my new kitten to the Scwartzentruber's farm down the road...never to lay eyes on it again. That night I sang a quiet lament on the sorrows of a boy losing the greatest cat he had ever known. (for 12 hours) I sang it into the night until my older brother punched me in the arm hard enough to make me forget the cat.(funny for all the lamenting I was doing, I never did name the damned thing)
The second song I can remember was song of war, a song of summoning up the courage of my ancestors. song that says we are so much tougher and stronger than you and we're going to kick you in the balls (spiritually speaking of course) and send you packing. I sang it to/with my best friend as we lay on our stomachs over looking a small bluff to the beach down below. We sang it as my brother and his friend walked beneath us. We sang it as I chucked a large rock at my brother and beaned him in the head with it...and then we ran like hell.
But I am wandering...Izzy announced to me that she was writing songs now.
"Daddy," she said. "I am writing songs now you know."
"Really?" I asked. "I have written a song or two."
"But I write real songs." she said. "Songs for my mouth to sing. Not songs for a chanter or bagpipes."
"I used to write songs like that and sing them and play bass." I said.
"Really?" she asked in a tone that sounded as though she might burst out in complete disbelieving laughter.
"Really." I said.
"Well, I am writing songs with words and music. I am putting them all together with my friend Candace."
"When It's finished, you might let me here a little. OK?" I asked her.
"OK..." she sighed heavily. Creating is such a burden...I know.
Off she went to her toy piano and plinked on the keys for a good amount of time. I have to say, the pattern was nearly the same every time she played it. There were subtle differences and changes to each version she played but the main part was now burnt permanently into my brain and it was virtually unchanged. For all intents and purposes, she was writing music. What she was doing was no different than what I had done and still do any time I wrote a song. The melody may have been a complete mystery to anyone but her...but that's all semantics's.
Once she had written a tune she was satisfied with, she went to the kitchen table to compose the appropriate lyrics. I tried not to watch, she tends to get embarrassed when you watch her creating and it will put her off of it. I had to turn away from her to disguise the broad grin that was spreading across my face as she sang and corrected and re-sang lyrics. She was writing them out on a piece of paper, so she could give them to Candace How else would she sing HER part? Father's are silly sometimes I have been informed.
She bolted out of the chair and dashed toward the phone.
"It's perfect!" she yelled with glee. "Can I phone Candace? She needs to hear this and find out what her part is before tomorrow."
"Sure." I said.
Who am I to stand in the way of art?
Candace wasn't nearly as thrilled at the prospect of being part of Hitsville Ontario and had decided to take a nap after school instead. Izzy was crestfallen.
"Can I hear it, Pick? You could sing it to me."
"Really?" she asked. The surprise in her voice told me she was not expecting me to ask to hear her song.
"Yep, go on and sing it for me." I said.
She began and continued to sing in a strong clear voice and looked at me most of the time she was singing. Normally, this sort of performance would be a hushed whisper and staring at her shoes. (Like Juliana Hatfield) When it was over, she put down her lyric sheet (that she didn't really have anything written on I later discovered) and took a series of long, low bows.
"That was awesome!" I said and gave her a big round of applause. "You are on your way to being a great songwriter!" I didn't have the heart to tell her that her song was already being sung by a cute English woman called Adele. Who am I to stand in the way of art?
She took another bow and disappeared. I am assuming she went off to her dressing room to prepare for the 5:45 show. (when Mummy gets home)
She was colouring and I asked her why she wasn't writing any songs today.
"I am waiting for a call back from Candace. She is sick."
"She's sick?" I asked.
"She went home from school today, she threw up in class." Isobel said.
"She threw up in class?" I asked. "Oh no, that's not good."
"Yeah bitch, bitch, whatever." Isobel said.
That's the problem with being a songwriter, everyone who is good enough to sing your songs is always a prima donna.

I was sitting at the computer, wearing headphones when I heard what I thought was the distant rumble of thunder. I looked over to see Isobel, my progeny, the product of my genetic lineage bent over looking out the window. Nearly crippled with laughter.
"What's the deal?" I asked.
She proceeded to show me...She pressed her forehead against the window and slid it downward...her face, not the window. Her skin naturally presented a measure of resistance and friction against the glass which in turn, resulted in her head thudding off the window. The lower the position of her head, the slower it thudded and the lower the pitch of the thud. She did it repeatedly and howled with laughter every time she did it.
"Doesn't that hurt?" I asked half out of concern for my child's well being and half out of befuddled amusement.
"It's just my head," she said. "It's nothing."
My Child...not a doubt in my mind.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Play Date...G-L-O-R-I-A...

We were in the bathroom and she was looking at herself in the mirror.
Isobel: "Daddy, I have one of those things."
Daddy: "One of what things?"
Isobel: "One of those little red things that show up on your face and then go away."
Daddy: "A zit?"
Isobel: " That's it. You have one too, right there."
Daddy: "Do you mean the red marks on my face? Those aren't zits, that's really dry skin."
Isobel: "No, that right there."(pointing)
Daddy: "That's not a zit, that's a mole. It won't ever go away."
Isobel: "Can I see?" (touching it with her finger and quickly pulling her hand away)
Daddy: "What?"
Isobel: "Touching that made me feel kinda weird. Like weird in my body." (Touching her sides)
Daddy: "Oh yeah?"
Isobel: "Hey Daddy, I can feel my lungs!"

It's good to see your children developing relationships with people. Good to watch them form friendships that may last a lifetime, or might peter out and disappear by the end of the school year. The Boy has, on one hand, a friend who spent the night and humped him every chance he got. He has not been spoken of by anyone in the house since then. But he has another friend with whom he spent the entire day, literally. Mrs. Narrator dropped him off at 9:00 a.m and he came wandering back home around six that night...all day video games and not a single mention of humping...it is a different dynamic. It's good to watch it unfold, to see two kids interacting on more or less the same level.
Izzy too, has two very different friends. Although the three of them all get along, there is a different dynamic that runs between the three of them. They are both in Izzy's class at school but there is definitely a difference in the way they play and the way Izzy acts toward them. I don't want to say one child is smarter or better than the other, because that isn't what I mean but one friend is less assertive than the other and so Izzy tends to be the boss at any given time when they play. Izzy suggest the games and calls all the shots. Her friend knows this and accepts it.
The other friend however, is more on an equal playing field with Izzy. She may not be in charge but she is also not about to back down when it comes to getting what she wants...It was this friend that came over for a play date...
The recurring theme seemed to be 'little girls are worse than little boys, who knew?'
Picture if you will, the Tasmanian devil. A swirling tornado of destruction with the odd hand or foot poking out of it. Now add giggling and glitter erupting from the tornado and that about sums up the Saturday of the play date.
Izzy's friend arrived in the afternoon and first off, they are remarkably similar in appearance and build. Both very cute, dirty-blond haired, five year old girls. They are also very similar in attitude and there seems to be a struggle just below the surface as to who will ultimately decide the way the playing will go.
When The Boy had his friend over, I noticed they got down to business right away. They were playing video games and it was going to commence as soon as they got in the house. They would take a break at supper time at which point gaming would commence anew and they would play until such time as they tired of it or another notion of activity struck them as interesting and fun.
There was no discernible direction of play with the girls. Not that that sort of of thing matters, play shouldn't have any directives but it was interesting to watch. For most of the first hour the two of them were together, it was running from room to room and giggling and squealing and tittering and running more and laughing and squealing and loud and giggling and that was so high pitched it's a good thing we haven't got a dog and running and laughing. They were having fun so who am I to say anything?
Soon, out came the make-up box and the mirror. At last they were starting to act like I though little girls should act. Make-up and Barbies and tea parties, that sort of thing. Dad's are mostly clueless about the habits of their children. I am apparently, no exception. Now Izzy has been playing with and enjoying make up for quite sometime but her make up tastes have been influenced by Kiss, Alice Cooper and several Norwegian Black Metal Bands. To say that she is unique in what she considers excellent make-up is a bit of an understatement.
When her friend came over to Mrs. Narrator and Me to show off her new make over, she said "I feel like I don't look good." and off they giggled to look in the bathroom mirror. Shortly there after, out came the make up remover wipes and they were on to round two. Izzy tried to be a bit more conservative and a little less 'Izzy' when she put her friend's make-up on for a second time and everyone seemed happy with the results.
"Not everyone has the same tastes in make-up." I remember saying to no one in particular. (not that either of the girls cared that words were escaping my mouth)
"If you want to run with this gang," said Mrs. Narrator half under her breath, "you need to let all of that shit go."...indeed.
The make-up went away as quickly as it came out and they were on to something else. They started and finished activity after activity with reckless abandon. I couldn't get my head around it but made this was some sort of natural, primitive training for multi-tasking I was witnessing. Much the same way that boys wrestle and tussle as a primitive practice for hunting. (no really, that's why they do it)
I feel that I need to state for the record, that when The Boy had a sleep over, the worst mess I cleaned up was the pile of blankets in his bedroom after the two of them got the fear and moved upstairs in the middle of the night. Little girls are worse than little boys, who knew? They may have have been practicing their multi-taking skills by moving from toy to toy and game to game but cleaning was not one of the skills they seemed to be interested in honing. At all.
How in the Hell are two five year old girls capable of making a mess on that large a scale? Nagasaki would have taken less time to sort out than the catastrophic fail of a bed room that I walked into. Clothes everywhere, dress up clothes, regular clothes, Izzy's clothes, her friend's clothes(what exactly they were doing, I can't be certain) Barbie and Ken in positions that suggested they were playing twister with Barbie's horse. I felt myself beginning to boil just looking at the mess but what was I going to do, blow my stack in front of her friend? Of course not. I but my tongue, swallowed my pride and put Barbie and Ken and the contorted horse back into the appropriate drawer.
I watched Izzy go through a change that day. her friend was not so easily influenced as some of the others and so she needed to take somebody else's feelings and needs into consideration if she wanted the play to continue. It was fun to watch and it is what friendship is a really about, the ballet of give and take that we all go through.
At one point, they were playing at being terrified and chased by ghosts. They would run from room to room, screaming and hiding behind bits of furniture until the evil was gone. Out of the corner of my eye, I caught Izzy putting her hands together in a sort of prayer. Her friend was doing the same. "Dear Jesus," Izzy began. "Dear, dear Jesus, we are scared and if you just get us out of this we will be good and do nothing but good things forever. Bless me and you, the end."
"The end." her friend echoed.
Isobel looked at me, rolled her eyes and smiled...OK so maybe not THAT much give and take.

Isobel has had friends for as long as any of us can remember. Her thronging masses, her disciples, her underlings. It was only after seeing Despicable Me that I started calling them her minions. They are the nameless horde...until now.
She was wandering around the other day using one of the myriad remotes we have around here (functional and non-functional alike!) as a cell phone. She has done this for as long as we can remember too. Talking to someone in her usual pleasant manner.
"Look, I'm way too busy to do that. No you do it. No YOU do it. What did I give you the job for if you can't do it?"
She went on like this for a while and she was beginning to get hot under the collar. Slamming the door to the toy cupboard and holding the phone away from her ear, like someone would do when someone on the other end is prattling on and on.(Don't act like you don't know what I mean)
And then it happened...
"If you aren't going to do it, you can just go home." (silence as though listening to the other person speak)
"Dammit Gloria, just get it done."
Wait what? Who?
"Who is Gloria?" I asked.
She just smiled a kind of smile that defies description. That 'Cat who ate the Canary' kind of smile.
"Isobel, who is Gloria?" I asked once more.
She let out a long slow breath and said, "Someone who won't have a job soon."
With that she dropped the remote/cell phone and walked out of the room.
Well at least we got to know her name before she was banished...This is an important step for Izzy, she'll now have somebody to finger when her room looks like a disaster.
"I told Gloria to clean up n there but you just can't get good help anymore can you?"

Monday, November 21, 2011

Alternate sleeping arrangements...A Father's love...

She was writing something , she was writing it in the margins of a Dr. Seuss book and she was deep in thought as she wrote it. I glanced over her shoulder to see what she was up to.
Isobel: "Daddy, can you read what this says?"
Daddy: (It read Novebre the Nith) "It says November the Ninth."
Isobel : "How do you know it says November the ninth?"
Daddy: "Lucky guess."
Isobel: It is a good guess. That's what it says, November the Ninth."
Daddy: "That's very good Pick. Except today is November the 21. You know that, right?"
Isobel: "Yes. I was just practicing. (Whispering to herself) The 21st...who the hell made it the 21st?"

We are all animals...mammals if you must be specific. We are all still cavemen inside and sometimes that cavemen bubbles to the surface and claws and grunts his way out. I know these things, I work the night shift...I am a caveman at the best of times. You can seen example of this sort of throw back behaviour all over society. Football games, players and fans alike posturing and puffing their chests in an effort to intimidate one another. Hockey, rugby, roller derby...the rituals and rites displayed are nothing short of primitive.
But if you want to see true primal behaviour, there is no finer example than the pre-teen boys sleep over...yes friends, The Boy had a sleep over this past weekend. Not his first but the first premeditated one, rather than the situations that arise when parents go visiting and are worn down to the nub by the constant whine of children begging to spend the night with their friends. No, this was a bonafide event.
I was allowed one sleep over that I can remember...(friends coming over and passing out does not count) I understand why....funny that...I picked up The Boy and his guest from the sitter's and prepared for a night of merriment. Ah yes, the Loud Brothers reunited!
I have to say first off, that I have never doubted that The Boy was intelligent. After the two of them got into the house, I am convinced that not only is The Boy smart enough to handle himself in nearly any situation (and rise to the top and control the situation to boot) but that his new found BFF is a bit of a block head...maybe that is a bit harsh...perhaps evolutionary throw back is a better more pc way to put things. To be fair, The Boy's over night guest is younger than The Boy is and is clearly NOT a leader. But like my Grandmother used to say, the world needs ditch diggers too.
And here is where it gets interesting...primitive. Put two adolescent boys together and watch what happens,watch the dynamic that begins to weed itself in. The Boy was instantly the front runner in the dominance of the situation but it didn't stop his friend from trying to change all that.
And so emerged the worst trait in all primates trying to establish themselves as the dominant one...when The Boy turned his back, (figuring he had one the day and proclaimed himself alpha male) his friend humped him. It's not a sex thing or any other weirdness anyone may be thinking, it is an evolutionary leftover that we are all capable of. Watch dogs and apes and ...just about any mammal. If you want to be the boss, you hump. If the humpee submits, the humper wins and is the boss. If there is no submission, there is usually some sort of tussle and the whole thing starts over again.
"Dude, stop." was The Boy's way of saying he wasn't going to submit any time soon. He didn't and eventually the humping and tussling calmed down to patient guidance from The Boy and awkward and unsure looks from his friend. Though I did hear "Dude, stop" continue on for almost the rest of the night. I guess the drive to be the lead dog never really goes away. I was not a humper but I had friends who were and one of them was the one friend who was allowed to sleep over that one time...funny that...
Bedtime came and it had been predetermined they would sleep on the floor in the living room. Camping style, without all that pesky nature and fresh air to ruin things. Predictably, there was much tittering and giggling and talking and whispering and "Dude, stop." And even a few "Be QUIET!"s courtesy of Mrs. Narrator. Eventually all was calm and everybody went to sleep.
Until of course, the mysterious beast that roams the rooms of our house decided to again surface when everyone is in their beds and scare the living jesus out of the two boys camping downstairs. They came upstairs to sleep near the safety of the sleeping parents(the only natural defense against said beast) The Boy slept in his own bed with his friend nesting on a pile of blankets set up on the floor beside him...which is what I had suggested they do in the first place...funny that...
After making sure the boys were settled and safe, (and at least attempting to go to sleep) Mrs. Narrator whispered "How many sleep overs do we figure we have to have?" Could have been worse, they could have been really primitive and attempted to dance by the flames erupting from the jiffy pop container that was burning on the stove, like something out of Quest for Fire. We never got to have jiffy pop after my sleep over...funny that...
By now I was more or less quite awake and went downstairs to see if there was any truth to the noises in the kitchen...We do have mice, though I could see no evidence of any that night. I had to get up early and so decided I may as well stay downstairs so's not to disturb anyone when I got up. Which is what I had suggested all along...funny that...

Story time is fast becoming my favourite time of the day. It used to be that I would read the stories and Izzy would fall asleep beside me. Sometimes I would smell her, drinking in the sweet new kid's smell. Best after a bath mind you. (everyone who has kids know what I am talking about) or other times I would just stare for a while and watch her sleep, marvelling at this beautiful, peaceful little life lying beside me.
Now, with school for her and night shift for me, she does the reading and I usually end up doing the sleeping. Oh there is still some smelling in the room but between the two of us, there's not a lot of sweet anymore.
The other night, we had finished our story and I was getting up to go. I tucked her in and bent low to give her a kiss. She turned her head abruptly.
"Gimme a kiss," I said.
A look of deep thought crossed her face and she looked up at me.
"Yeah so...good luck with that kiss thing. Good-night." she said.
Warms your heart, doesn't it...

Monday, November 14, 2011

Where's the Cat?...Fear of A Brown Planet...

We were upstairs, she was colouring pictures and I was learning new pipe tunes. I'm not certain how it came about but the topic turned to favourite words.
Isobel: "Daddy, what's your favourite word?"
Daddy: "Umm...Isobel. My favourite word is Isobel."
Isobel: "Really?"
Daddy: "Sure, why not? Some would say that Isobel is a name and can't be used like that but I don't care."
Isobel: "What about a different word?"
Daddy: "I don't really have one, then. What's your favourite word, Pick?"
Isobel: "Hell. No, wait...Damn. No,...Shit. Definitely Shit."
Daddy: "Shit, not Shite?"
Isobel: "No, that's Scottish. My mouth hurts when speak Scottish. Only sometimes when I say Shite, it doesn't hurt."
Daddy: "Oh yeah, like when?"
Isobel: "Like when you practice bagpipes."
Daddy: "Huh?"
Isobel: "It sounds like Shite when you play your chanter."

I remember the drummer of one of the bands I played with speaking fondly of his dog. 'Clancy', a Scottish terrier and his very best friend. He told me of how they were all but attached at the hip and that wherever he went, Clancy would go too. For many years it was like this, Clancy would be the first thing he saw when he woke up and the last thing he saw before he went to bed.
Then one day he arrived home from school to be met at the door by his father who exclaimed,
"Don't bother looking for Clancy, he ain't here."
We had many pets growing up. Mostly cats and dogs and we loved them all and in spite of that, they all died. Insensitive bastards. They tell you that having pets is a good way for your children to learn the realities of life...that we are born, we live a while and then we die. Stuff and nonsense...If it teaches your children anything, it's that if you pour your heart and soul into loving something, it still gets old and you take it to the doctor and it doesn't get to come home...well, that's what it teaches your kids anyway...that message was completely lost on me and therefore on my offspring as well.
There are two pets that we had that I remember very well, I remember their deaths equally well. It's funny the things that seem to have little meaning at the time, beyond what's on the surface, that creep back up years later.
We had a cat called Cocoa. I say we but he was my mother's cat and eyed the rest of us with little more than contempt. We would follow him around the house hoping he would 'allow' us to lavish him with affection and occasionally he would stop and allow a scratch on the head or a mild pat on the back. We loved him and for our trouble, he tolerated us.
He got old...very old and deaf and he would sleep for very long periods of time.(My Auntie Peggy would do the same thing and she lasted forever too) He wandered away and we looked for him for days afterward. We all figured the worst when we couldn't find him. We just figured he went outside and fell asleep and didn't wake up. The smell coming from underneath my sister's bed, told us he had not gone outside. But he was dead. There was no mistake there. My father pulled him out from under the bed ( I would have but he wouldn't let me touch it) The cat was as hard as a carp.
Everyone was quite sad around the house, hell even my father got a little misty when he spoke of burying him in the backyard. I didn't get it. It was a cat. Sure we loved it and fed it and took care of it...and then it got old and died. Get a new cat? It made perfect sense to me then as it does now.
We also had a dog...a Schnauzer called Ollie. He was a dear family pet and loyal and we loved him and he loved us back. He was tied to a pear tree, the same pear tree he had been tied to the whole of his life. This time however, a gigantic colony of yellow jackets (that had taken up residence in the roof line of our house) had decided that the pear tree was a good source of food for their thronging multitude and therefore belonged to them.
I remember one of my friends running up the street screaming that my brother was trying to drown our dog with the garden hose. When I got back to my house saw that my brother was trying to drown the thousands of yellow jackets that had swarmed our dog. My mother and father both came home from work and took the dog to the vet. They came home and the dog didn't. I heard stories of the horrid noise the dog made at the vet...I can only imagine there were like the horrid noises he was making before my parents got home.
Again, everyone around the house was blubbering and bawling for days...except me. It's not to say that I wasn't upset. (I was) It's not to say that I am cold-hearted.(though I may be) It was a dog. It wasn't my father or mother, he hadn't rescued me from the well and he didn't ever bring anyone brandy during a snow storm. (as far as I am aware). He was born and he lived and he got himself stung to death by a pissy horde of yellow jackets, high on fermented pears. My father buried him in the backyard next to the cat. Life went on. We got another dog and another cat and they all lived and they all died and nobody's life was any the worse because of it.
So why maudlin stroll down memory lane? A couple of weeks ago saw the death of the last cat in the house. Brooklyn. She got old and sick (cancer) and peed all over anything that stood still for more than a couple of minutes. To our credit we tried to make her better but she was seventeen and vet bills ain't cheap. When we found it was more or less hopeless, we decided it would be better for her to be put down.
Mrs. Narrator was an emotional puddle pretty much after we made the decision and who can blame her...Brooklyn was her cat. Her last cat. So naturally the dirty work fell to me and I went to the vet, heard about the options and the prices or the options and after hearing that it was all fairly fruitless, I told her we wanted the cat put down.
The vet took a gigantic breath and asked if I would like to be with the cat when she was put down...I'm certain there are people that need this kind of closure. I am not one of them. I politely told her no while my brain screamed 'are you off your nut?' And that was it. I was given the carrier we brought the cat to the vet in and Isobel and I walked out.
I worried for a day or two afterward, what I might say if and when Izzy asked me about the cat. Burt the question never came. Not for almost three weeks.
"Daddy," she began.
"When is Brooklyn coming home, anyway?"
I scrambled to think of something to tell her, something to soften the blow a little. I have told my children for as long as I can remember that they will always get the truth from me.
"She's not coming home honey." I said.
"What do you mean, not ever?" Izzy asked.
I could hear the emotion rising in her voice and thought I had better choose my next words carefully.
"No honey, not ever. Remember when we went to the vet and we came home without Brooklyn?"
"Well she was very sick and..."
"She's dead?"
"Yes Honey, she's dead."
"Thank god," she said. "I hated Brooklyn. Gimmo I liked but Brooklyn I can't stand Brooklyn."
We were putting her laundry away a little while later and I was putting blankets in the bottom of her closet.
"No Daddy, you can't put them in there."
"We can put them in there," I said. "Brooklyn isn't here anymore."
"Oh yeah," Izzy said. She won't piss all over my closet anymore."
...Anybody know of any free kittens?

It's funny to think of the things that shape your life and turn you into who you are. To this day I can't cook a grilled cheese sandwich without getting a headache but that's a story for another day. Isobel's defining moment came about a month ago and it affected her deeply...it is still affecting her.
We had a flood in the bathroom. The toilet was left un-flushed and was used a time or two too often and with too much toilet paper. The result of which, was a flood in the bathroom.
She saw me tearing across the hall to get the plunger and asked what was wrong.
"Somebody put too much toilet paper in the toilet and now it is over flowing. I have to get the plunger before the water goes all over the god-damned bathroom." I said.
In retrospect I probably shouldn't have been quite so dramatic or at least not so 'holy crap the world is going to end if I don't plunge this toilet right effing now!' about the whole ordeal.
After all was said and done Isobel came up to me and tried to wrap her hear around what had all just happened.
"So if you put too much toilet paper in the toilet, it makes a flood?" she asked.
"Yes," I said. "the toilet paper blocks the hole where it all goes down and the water comes out of the toilet...along with everything else."
And that was the exact moment I altered the natural course of my child's life. From that point to this very day, regardless of the length of time she spends in there or the amount of waste she leaves behind (and from the smell of things, you would think a long haul trucker from Pocatello had been in there before my five year old princess) she will use no more than two or three sheets.
I used to think maybe it was a dainty girlie thing but the absolute look of fear that crossed her face when I suggested she could use more than just a couple of sheets told me that this was not the run of things...I don't know that she will ever get past this...maybe if she floods a toilet of her own and sees that it isn't end of the world, despite what her father may do.
At least I'll know where to go for toilet paper if the apocalypse ever comes...

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Lowest Common Denominator...The Great Electric Babysitter

We were watching TV when Isobel noticed an odd smell around her.
Isobel: "Eww Daddy, did you fart?"
Daddy: "Yup. Stinks, huh?"
Isobel: "Eww, yes it does stink. But you're the gassy one, right?"
Daddy: "I guess but you don't do so bad."
Isobel: "Do so bad at what?"
Daddy: "At stinking. You could clear a room my dear"
Isobel: "Daddy, what does that even mean?"
Daddy: "It means your farts smell so bad people want to leave the room."
Isobel: "Oh...Only when I laugh do my farts stink...sometimes..."

It always amazes me the occurrences of seemingly miraculous parental behaviour in nature. For example I have seen(on nature programs) adult seals and adult penguins that can pick out their offspring from literally tens of thousands of other, virtually identical young on crowded beaches by the sound of their cries alone. It's a genetic thing I think, that imprints the sounds and smells of our young somewhere deep in the primordial atavistic regions of our brains. Those little traces of ourselves that are in our children that we instantly recognize as ourselves.
Like the way that Uglik and his Father had the same sloping ocular ridge and the way my mother and I are incessant tidy-ers. Is it any wonder then, that my offspring should have mastered 'pull my finger' at the age of five and howl with big fakey uncontrolled laughter at fart jokes?
I used to dread bath time with Izzy. Not that I wasn't capable of cleaning my child but there was always two big fears for me and inexperience fueled these fears to no end. I was always worried that I would be too rough with her while washing (especially her hair) that I might actually hurt her. This more or less resulted in a child that was wet but not a great deal cleaner than she was before her bath. I didn't wash her hair so much as just wave the shampoo bottle around her scalp and hope for the best. And combing was an exercise in futility. The first time the comb got stuck in a tangle and I pulled through, we both left the bathroom in tears and I swore I would never comb her hair again. She could be a Rastafarian and we'd both be OK with that. Conditioner and a large toothed comb has saved my daughter from a lifetime of Peter Tosh records and cannabis use.
The second thing that worried me most was that she might...crap in the tub. It's an unfounded and reckless fear and I have never heard of a child...of any age...just moving their bowels during bath time. But it could have happened. In the cold light of her being five now, it doesn't strike me as something that would have been a big deal. Hell, she could have the screaming Nestle squirts in the tub and stew in her own mahogany puddle for ten or fifteen minutes and I wouldn't bat an eye. Just empty the tub and start over...the child did barf in my mouth after all, there isn't too much worse on the gross out scale she could dish out.
But where is all this going?...Ah yes, bath time. I was indeed bath time the other day and I had finished washing her up.
"Can I play for a little bit?" she asked me.
"For a couple of minutes, anyway." I said.
"How long is that? she asked.
"I'll come and get you when it's time to get out." I said and wandered into the bedroom next door.
"Daddy!" came the shout from the bathroom.
I wasn't worried but there was some urgency in her voice.
"What's up Pick?"
"Daddy, what are these things again?"
She was referring to the water jets in the tub."
"They're water jets, they turn the bathtub into a jacuzzi."
"What's a jacuzzi?" she asked.
"You know, bubbles like a hot tub, like at Tante Charlotte's house."
"Can you turn it on?" she asked.
"No honey, the bubbles don't work." I said.
The bubbles worked just fine, I remember the last time we turned it on she lost her mind and leaped shrieking from the tub. I didn't care to wear any water this time.
"Oh," she said. "OK."
I went back to whatever I was doing in the other room and after finishing that went to get her out of the tub.
Outside the bathroom door, I could hear the unmistakable sounds of flatus leaving a submerged bottom and bursting upon a ceramic tub floor...followed by muffled giggles.
I opened the door and found her singing...and well...
"I do a little dance(turning in the tub) and then I fart in the tub (and she did) Jacuzzi!"
In my mind's eye, I can see a beach full of little girls and I can always pick out Isobel...I can't be certain if picking her out of a crowded beach full of flatulent little girls would be nearly as impressive as what the seals or penguins can do, I have no basis for comparison and National Geographic still won't return my calls...

I have never been a huge believer in the power of Television and media to corrupt our children. A lot of stuff and nonsense I say...or said. I have had to change my tune with Isobel around. I don't mean in a 'watch your god damned, oops, language' kind of way, I mean Isobel can be so completely swayed into one type of behaviour or another by things that she sees on television and on the internet.
She dances like a stripper, thanks to Ke$ha and her ilk. Dark make-up from Alice Cooper, Black Veil Brides and Dimmu Borgir ( and to a lesser degree Kiss) and a blossoming love of classic creepy, monster-y type things thanks to dear old Dad and the Universal Monsters collection.
Recently, I was sent a video called "Breaking the Barrier" that deals with that period in a relationship where you feel comfortable enough to fart in front of the other person. Only the roles are completely reversed and the girl is the one doing all of the farting, much to the dismay of the boy. Isobel watched this video with me several times and howled with laughter as much as I did.
Now since watching this video, she has been revelling in the musicality and mastery of the bottom burp, though she has been off on a couple of the things she saw. For example she smelled her own hand after cupping it around her butt, rather than jamming it in my face. The rest was classic Izzy.
She leaned into me as if to give me a kiss and whispered "I shit my pants right now."
I laughed and laughed until the tears rolled down my cheeks. Anybody who has seen this video will know that she was spot on. Just as the pain in my sides began to let up, she said "No seriously, I think I crapped in my pants. I need to go to the bathroom."...who says a joke can go to far?

Monday, October 31, 2011

Devils and Angels and Vampires and Living Dead Girls, Oh my...A Spooky Halloween Story...

We were getting ready to go to the mall, just Izzy and I, when the topic of zombies came up. It comes up more often than you would think...
Isobel: "Daddy, how do you make a zombie?"
Daddy: "I think it's mostly rum."
Isobel: "What?"
Daddy: "Oh, you mean a real zombie, that's easy. If you don't eat all your supper you turn into a zombie."
Isobel: "... Really?"
Daddy: "Really."
Mrs Narrator: "I heard that it happens if you don't eat your broccoli."
Isobel: "I guess I am going to be a zombie then. Oh well, whatever."
She fell asleep in the car on the way to the mall and snapped awake with a yelp that scared me enough to swerve the car.
Isobel: "Daddy!"
Daddy: "What is it honey?!? You scared the crap out of me!"
Isobel: "Daddy, do zombies eat pizza with pencil shavings on it?"
Daddy: "Not as far as I know, just brains."
Isobel: "Phew"

Ah Halloween! Izzy's favourite holiday...and I guess mine too. Though I have always had a problem with it being called a holiday. I have never gotten the day off work or school...wherein then, lies the holiday?
Anyway, Izzy loves Halloween. Once she understood the concept of knocking on doors equals candy (scandalous amount of candy) she was off and running. I'm sure most kids are excited about the prospect of dressing up and putting on make up once a year but to the child whose day to day play routines involve make-up and costumes of all sorts, careful consideration must be given to ensure that one's treat receivership is not compromised by a poorly planned disguise. A few 'and what are you dressed up as, little girl?' questions and the next thing you know you're trying like hell to make your pittance of Halloween loot last until the end of the week., never mind til next Halloween. We're still not certain how The Boy pulls off this feat every year. We think he may have the devil in him.
So with careful planning and a well thought out colour scheme, Isobel decided she would like to be the Devil. Not any demon or lesser imp, but the Big Red One himself. (or herself in this case) We went off to the second hand store and began to assemble the costume. I would hold up red items and Isobel would say either yay or nay to them. And horns and a pitch fork of course. ( how can you be the Devil without such things) She had initially seen and adult devil costume, one for an ample bosomed woman...complete with red fish net stockings.
"Devil or no, there is no way in HELL you are going to dress like that..." I believe was what came out of my mouth when she pointed at the costume.
And so we me in the middle with red warm up pants, a red sweater and a red fur lined hoodie. We decided against a tail because it looked "totally not like a devil tail anyway." No muss, very little fuss and we were back in the car headed for home with a good costume in under an hour!
So the Devil bit lasted about two days...I blame myself. She would put the costume on and strut around and dance a devilish dance and I made an off the cuff comment about disguising your true self at Halloween...I blame myself...
So off we went, back to the second hand store to get angel wings and a white gown. Izzy remembered that she already had a white dress she could wear and all she needed to have were the wings. Where in the hell was I going to find white wings that weren't going to cost me an arm and a leg? The second hand store, of course. There they were, a rack of wings. Red, black, white, blue and many shades of metallic wings. All for $10:00. You couldn't go wrong. And since she is my kid, the second he saw them, she wanted the black wings and wondered how she could pull off black wings and still be an angel? I blame myself...I suggested she could be a fallen angel, like in the video by her new favourite band. This of course opened up the new dilemma of what outfit to wear under the wings and what make up to wear along with it.
We agreed we would have a look at the video and see what they were wearing and we could do her make up and outfit based on that. She agreed and home we went, where she proceeded to wear the black ostrich feather wings around the house for playing until they became a little on the ratty side.
"I don't want to be an angel anymore, not even a fallen angel. My wings don't look to good now." she said four days before Halloween. I blame myself...
"What now?" I asked, the desperation and frustration beginning to show.
"A vampire." she stated.
That I could do, she just needed new teeth-99 cents at the second hand store. The rest we had left over from last year, even the fake blood. Off we went and got teeth and a little more make up just in case.
She had a Halloween party at school on the Monday of Halloween and I promised I would put on her make up before I went to bed in the morning. When I picked her up after school, she was still wearing the make up, which in my mind meant it went over fairly well. When I was putting the make up back on her before we went out that night, she said she wasn't a vampire anymore. I explained that as long it ddn't involve me running out anywhere in a full blown panic trying to get a costume piece at the last second, that she could be Mary Todd Lincoln's facial hair as far as I was concerned.
She explained that she was going to be a Living Dead Doll. Her make-up was identical only with out the vampire blood (which she said was bugging her chin anyway) and a bright red bow for her hair. It was one of those bows that people put around the bald heads of their baby's for photographs that cause people to ask 'why would you put that gigantic stupid bow on that poor baby's head?'
I have to admit, she thought about it, planned it out and it looked good. Most of the older folks said the standard 'great costumes, guys' to Izzy and The Boy (who incidentally cut as fine a figure of a Grim Reaper as ever I saw) but it was the young hip parents and teen aged girls that really liked what she was wearing and really laid the candy on...my baby know creepy and creepy pays on Halloween...

We were sitting out by the fire one night, Izzy and me and the topic of conversation turned to my Auntie Judy and how she makes the best pickles(she does) and how we should go visit her sometime. (we should)
"I'll bet she's really nice," Izzy said.
"She is, very nice." I replied.
"Does she make you tea when you go to visit her?"
"Always," I said. " "Auntie Judy makes the best tea."
"Does she have a brown tea pot?" Izzy asked.
"I think so," I said. "What else?" I asked.
"Was it Nana's?"
"Yes," I said "But my Nana, not your Nana."
"I think Auntie Judy has short , kind of curly hair." Izzy said.
"What colour?" I asked.
"White," Ozzy said. "Short and white and she wears glasses."
Isobel has never met my Auntie Judy and to my knowledge she has never seen a picture of her. For the record, my Auntie Judy has short, white hair that is slightly curly and she wears glasses when she reads. I can't be 100% certain but I believe the last time I was visiting her, my Auntie Judy made me tea in a brown pot that belonged to my grandmother, my Nana...I think I need to keep my eye on this kid...or take her to the track...Happy Halloween from all of us at Fuzzy Blue Chair!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The conversation...It would bring tears to your eyes...

It is the end of harvest season and close to Halloween. Izzy went on her first real class trip and came home very excited and carrying a small, mostly filthy pumpkin.
Isobel: "Look Daddy, look what I got from my trip at school.
Daddy: "Oh, lookie there. It's a big ball of mud and horse crap."
Isobel: "Daddy! It's my own pumpkin. I mean I found it and picked it for myself."
Daddy: "Oh look, there's a bit of orange under all that mud and horse crap. Maybe I could give it a wash."
Isobel: Really? You can make it all orange?"
Daddy: "Yep. Did you think that's just how it was?"
Isobel: "Maybe."
Daddy: "Now that your pumpkin is all clean what are you going to do?"
Isobel "I'm going to haunt my house. And when I get back, I'm going to keep...my...eye...on...you...muahahaha!"

I have to admit I was a little reluctant to send Isobel to school with our phone number written on a small piece of paper. She had said she needed to give it to her friend Candace who said she was going to call her. Maybe I was being old fashioned...that sort of automatic distrust of anyone wanting information from you. What if they give that information to someone who could do harm to me? Like the police or the tax department.
But this whole Father thing has really put things in a different light for me. I pay tax, I don't do illegal things (save maybe for the odd bout of speeding) and Isobel's friend Candace is five. I Know 'out of the mouths of babes' and all that but honestly, what sort of trouble could a five year old put on my doorstep anyway? It's that sort of arm's length attitude that has made the world an unhappy place and kept my parents weird and distant all of their adult lives...Name, rank and serial number. Never give 'em anything else...nonsense.
So I sent Izzy off to school with the number safely tucked into her lunch box. Figuring she would forget it outright or that she would lose it somewhere along the way. Mistake number one. She did neither but instead delivered it to it's intended recipient. Maybe I unconsciously believed that Candace's parents wouldn't let their five year old daughter use the phone. (is there an age of majority for the telephone?) Mistake number two. And lastly, mistake number three, I actually wondered aloud how much two five year old girls could have to say to each other?
I may as well have asked how many bricks does it take to fill in the Grand Canyon...They talked and talked and talked...and when they weren't talking, they were listening to each other breathe and snore and making fart noises. Isobel gave a rousing piano concerto (read Twinkle Twinkle Little Star) all the while holding her hand over the mouthpiece of the phone. The poor child on the other end must have told her parents "There's something wrong with our phone, every time Isobel says listen to this, I can't hear anything."
I have noticed that Isobel seems to take the lead, even in a phone conversation. Now of course I can't hear the other end of the phone call but from our side Izzy was all boss.
"Now Candace, I told you I don't want to talk about that...(Isobel listening) No, I said I wasn't going to do that today. Candace, that's pretty stupid...See?...OK, fine, then."
The 'OK, fine then,' is usually an indication that Isobel is ending whatever activity she is currently involved in and moving on to something else that does not involve the person or thing (or minion) she is upset with. Santa got an 'OK, fine then' little over a month ago and he is still in exile on the floor of my car. But the conversation with Candace went on for another full fifteen minutes after Izzy dropped the OK, fine then...I was a little speechless.
Tonight, Candace called just as she said she would but Isobel was in the midst of making a fort with The Boy and wasn't interested in the phone...not right then anyway. But they managed to talk for a little and Izzy tried to talk while in the fort, which didn't go over well. There were tears and yelling and from the other room, it sounded to me as though she and Candace had had their first fight...maybe even broken up.
I asked her about it later.
"Did you and Candace have a fight?"
"Kinda," she said.
"Are you still friends now?" I asked.
"Yep, we are BFF's forever." she said.
"What about the fight?" I asked her.
"Friends do that. That's why we are for real sisters."
"Wow," I thought. "How very insightful."
"Tomorrow I'll go back to loving her and telling her what to do." said Isobel.
I think the pony just turned into a princess phone in her bedroom.

We were enjoying our usual Sunday night bedtime routine. I had just gotten up from my nap before work and was laying in bed with her. We were reading and tickling and giggling and farting and giggling and farting and giggling...well, you get the idea.
I'm not certain what it is about Sunday night bedtime's in particular, but after a good meal and a two hour nap, something happens to my insides...something evil takes up residence and surfaces whenever it damn well pleases.
I am a guy and a Dad, I revel in my own bodily functions and encourage such activity in my children. With that being said, even I thought I was rotten.
"I'm outta here." said Izzy as she got out of her bed.
"Wait," I said. "Where are you going? It's bedtime."
"You stink." she said.
I started laughing and I noticed she looked like she might start crying. Fellow parents will know what look I am talking about. Non parents-picture finding a full beer at a party and drinking it only discovering the cigarette butt as the last swallow passes your lips...that look.
"Don't cry, Honey. I'm not laughing at you."
"It's not that." she said.
"What's the matter, then?" I asked her.
"It really stinks in here now."
"Just go, Dad." she said.
"What?" I asked.
"Please." she said.
Oh my god, she called me Dad. Not Daddy or Papa( my personal favourite) but Dad...how far off can it be before I hear; "I'm on the phone. Can you give me a little privacy, Dad. Said in that tone that we all know is a euphemism for asshole? Give me strength...my baby is growing up...

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Piano...Jack Lalane sucks...

We are coming into a period in Isobel's life that is fast becoming my favourite. Isobel is in SK now which means an ever increasing ability to read and write. I promise I will do a whole column on the things she is writing but for now, we were in bed at story time and Isobel was reading to me for a change.
Isobel: "Water can be cold."
Daddy: "Yup."
Isobel: "Water can be hot."
Daddy: "Very good."
Isobel: "Daddy, what is that?" (pointing to the water can be hot picture)
Daddy: `That is called a geyser. Water gets heated under the ground and then it erupts out of the ground and shoots up into the air.
Isobel: "Wow, that`s cool."
Daddy: "Huh?"
Isobel: "No, seriously that's cool."
Daddy: "That's it? That's all you have to say. Nothing else to add?"
Isobel: "That's it, I can't be random anymore today."

For the record, Isobel has not lost a finger nor has she been swept off her feet by Harvey Keitel dressed as a Maori. (wait, what?)
We were trying to remember when it was that the piano came to us and I think the consensus was that it was a gift for her first birthday. It was definitely my mother that gave it to her and it was the kind of gift that a mother gives. Not because she believes the child will be some kind of musical prodigy but because she swore she would get even with you for all the years of heart ache and unbridled, frustration fueled rage that you yourself put her through. If you were a particularly horrid child, you can count on a drum set being given to one or all of your children... But Izzy got a piano and not a very loud one at that.
At first she would use it as a source of ready made music, like the playschool wind up radios we had as kids. It has songs programmed into it and she would play them ad nauseum...to all of our delights. Soon after, she discovered that placing one's hands upon the keys of the piano caused sounds the weren't altogether unpleasant to emanate from the smiley piano and from then on the house was filled with the constant 'plink, plunk' of someone who hasn't a clue how to play a piano...even a toy one...that is more or less a player piano.
But she loved it, she had taken the bench from her make-up table(also a gift from my mother) and began to use it as a piano bench. I do remember that she seemed to have a knack for plink-plunking at the worst possible times. I would be watching T.V. in the room with her and the piano and she would give an impromptu recital just at the climax of what I happened to be watching...intently...with all my attention.
"Obi-wan never told you what happened to your father?"
"He told me enough, he told me you killed him."
"No, I...(Plink Plink Plink...PLLLUUUNNNKKK!)
OK, so I knew how that one turned out anyway but you get the idea.
But like all her things, the piano was replaced by something newer and flashier and it eventually ended up in the basement. Once in a while when she would come downstairs and play while I ran on the treadmill, she would see her piano and plink plunk away on it and giggle at the odd sounds it would make because the batteries were wearing out. Eventually, the batteries died outright and the piano was forgotten. Soon Izzy stopped coming downstairs with me and I subconsciously put the piano into the pile of toys to be donated if I ever get around to cleaning the basement.
Now, for the last week or two Isobel has been coming downstairs with me again and the other day she noticed her piano.
"Hey, it's my piano." she said.
"Yep." I replied.
"Hey, there are numbers written on it and numbers written in the book." Isobel exclaimed.
"Yep." I replied.
"Daddy, are these the songs? Is this how you play the songs?" she bubbled.
"Yep." I replied.
The batteries were dead and so no music for that day but we eventually got some batteries and she set about the piano straight way. She went first into the other room so she could practice and not be embarrassed. (I'm guessing...maybe she just didn't want an audience) It took a little effort but in a relatively short time the winsome strains of 'Twinkle, twinkle little star' and 'Baa-baa, black sheep' were coming out of my progeny's fingers.
I walked as quietly into the room as I could, to get a better listen and to call her to supper. She was playing away and talking to the minions.
"Holy crap," she said. "This is easier than I thought. No seriously, I am rocking this piano."
See, knowledge is power...just ask Liberace. I`ll bet he started the same way.

Isobel has begun to come downstairs with me again. Only now
she has decided that rather than play, she will exercise too. She put her summer jammies on ( shorts and a matching spaghetti strap tank top) and sweat pants and a sweater over top of that. On her feet were blue flowered flip-flops. A vision of health and vitality!
Her workout began with some simple stretches and right into jumping jacks. From there she went into stomach crunches and some dumbbell work. all of this happened over the course of about twenty minutes with no break.
"Daddy?" she began. "I'm getting sore."
"Take a break then." OI said. "You need to go slowly and build up your stamina. You can't go all out all at once."
She took a little breather and then was right back at it. I'd like to say that she was a natural at aerobic exercise...I'd like to say that but sadly, it was closer to striper-cise than it was to exercise. Lots of grinding on the floor and pelvic thrusting...too many Whitesnake videos would be my first guess.
She tried a kind of bizarre jumping jack where upon she leaped into the air while trying to touch her hand to the opposite foot...I think. She fell flat on her bottom and I quickly turned away so she wouldn't be embarrassed.
"Being healthy sucks." she said and stomped upstairs.
You don't need to be healthy to be a rockstar anyway...

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Weirdness of you Episode 2...My Perfect Cousin...

She had been playing downstairs and made a gigantic mess and so naturally, she decided to play upstairs and make a giant mess in her room. I found her hunched over her Dsi.
Isobel: "So then he went to that place and went whrrrrrr!!!"
Daddy: "Izzy, who are you talking to?"
Isobel: "Whrrr!!!"
Daddy: "Izzy, what are you doing?"
Isobel: "Whrrr, Gleenk, whrrr!!!"
Daddy: "Isobel!"
Isobel : "What is it , Daddy? I am trying to make my sounds."
Daddy: "You have a big mess you need to clean up downstairs."
Isobel: "I can't. I can't go downstairs anymore."
Daddy: "What do you mean?"
Isobel: "I can't go downstairs anymore, I am all out of up and down."

When I started writing this last week I realized that Isobel is just far too odd and far too often to just be captured in a single column. So here we go for the next bit.
Isobel has always had a fascination with religion and why people do what they do in those scary looking buildings. I don't know that she has ever been inside a church per-se but she has seen plenty on the outside. She once asked me who lived in there and without really thinking, I said the Baby Jesus. All kids know who the baby Jesus is, right? Not if they are never made to go to church they don't.
We were driving along, coming back from shopping somewhere when from out of my backseat I heard 'Jesus Christ!' I looked back to see what she was so upset about and all she would do was hang her head and point. I looked to what she was pointing at and sure enough, it was JC hanging off the side of a building...a church. She used to refer to the building as Jesus Christ, Cross!' but she's grown so much since then...
We were outside and she tripped and a 'Damn It!' slipped out of her. I said "Izzy, you shouldn't say things like that, you make the baby Jesus cry."
"How many times do I have to tell you, they don't exist."
"Who?" I asked, knowing full well what she was going to answer.
"The Baby Jesus, they don't exist!"
I chuckled a little and she seemed a bit embarrassed.
"Daddy?" she began.
"Daddy, do you really believe in the baby Jesus?"
"No, I guess not." I said, not wanting to get into a semantic discussion with a five year old whether or not someone of that description actually existed at that period in time.
"Oh thank god," she gushed. "me either. I just didn't want to be the only one."

We were driving along and she noticed two Sikh gentlemen walking toward the car. She seemed mystified by them. What they were wearing in particular.
"WHAT are they wearing on their heads?" she asked, not disguising the excitement in her voice.
"Those are called turbans." I said.
She thought about this for a minute.
"Do they wear them all the time?" she asked.
"I think so, Pick." I answered.
"Do they wear them because they're bald?"
"No," I laughed. "Just the opposite. Their hair is very long underneath the turban."
"That's why there is two of them."
"Two of what?" I asked.
"Two guys." she said.
"What are you talking about, my dear?" I asked, clearly having lost the thread of sense in this conversation.
"There are two guys so they can hold each others hair and wrap it up in the sheet."

We have been having unseasonably warm weather for the last couple of weeks. I picked her up at school and she went off as soon as she got in the car.
"Damn!" she said.
"What?" I asked.
"Whew," she said. "Damn hot."
"What?" I asked again.
"DAMN HOT." she said emphasizing the words as though I were hard of hearing or stupid...or both perhaps.
"I got that," I said. "What I meant was what has made you so hot? It's warm out but it's not as hot as all that?"
"I was running around with Cadence just before you picked me up. Whew, it is DAMN hot. Daddy. I can't believe how Damn hot it is. I am really DAMN hot."
We got to the post office and she was still going on about the heat as we picked up the mail. By the time we were back in the car, she was beginning to sound like an old woman trapped in a department store elevator.
"Daddy, it is so hot. I am so very DAMN hot. I don't know why it has to be so DAMN hot."
"Isobel?" I asked
"If you are so DAMN hot, why don't you take of your DAMN sweater?"
"Hey!" she exclaimed and took off her sweater. "That's so much better now."
"Daddy?" she asked.
"That was a good DAMN idea."
"Awright," I said.

We had gone to my sister's place for Thanksgiving dinner and up until now, it seemed as though the kids didn't quite fit in with the other kids. There were age differences between the cousins that seemed just too great and they all had too little in common. And so as a result, the children were glued to the parents. Usually Mrs. Narrator, which made it difficult to be social and damn near impossible to eat without shooting food all over the child or the floor. Mind you they do have a big do that is not particular about licking floor or child, so long as there is food of some description going in his waiting maw.
I can happily report, that the children are now on par with the cousins and we barely caught a glimpse of either of them after we arrived and there was a fair amount of cajoling involved in getting them to leave.
My brother, is the solution to getting Izzy to get her things together and out the door in a hurry. Like all good uncles, my brother is a master of teasing Isobel. (I remember my Uncle Bill being as much of a pain in the ass in the few short moments between his finishing dinner and the food rendering him unconscious on the living room sofa) My brother likes to point out that Isobel has ears that stick out a bit. Rather like mine...and his. He will also demand a kiss from her any time she gets within a foot of him. There is a lot of 'Kiss the hand' type gestures being waved around from Isobel and a lot of mock crying from her uncle. It used to bother her but she will not be so easily swayed now.
I used to worry that the comments about her ears might be upsetting her and I was prepared to ask him to knock it off. But it didn't seem to be bugging her and so I left it alone. When we got home this time, she asked me a question as I was tucking her in.
"Why does Uncle Doug always want to kiss me?"
"Because he loves you, honey and he doesn't get to see you very often." I said.
"He says my ears stick out." she said.
"I know," I said. "Do you want me to tell him to stop?"
"Does Uncle Doug know his ears stick out too?" she asked.
"I think so," I said. "That might be why he says your stick out. He's probably happy there is another one of us who's ears stick out."
"OK," she said. "That's OK. But I'm still not kissing him."