Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Death Of The Cool...The One That Got Away...

I was unpacking my bagpipes at band practice, when a container of Mrs. Narrator's deodorant came tumbling out of my case. Much to the delight and jeers of my band mates.
"Maybe she is trying to tell you something." Was the most popular comment of the night.
Just to be safe, I smelled both the pipe case and my arm pits and neither warranted deodorant.
She was already asleep when I got home and I had to go to work shortly after, so it wouldn't be until sometime the following evening when I got to ask her why she had done it. I figured something hilarious would leap off her tongue and I thought about it most of the night at work.
Daddy:"Izzy, why did you put Mummy's deodorant in my pipecase?"
Izzy: (with an inflection in her voice that says you stupid, stupid man.) "Because I'm weird."

Izzy, the Boy and I were hanging around the house doing the Boy's homework- spelling (none of that pesky math crap for me) and the Boy asked me about prefixes and suffixes. After I answered the question, he asked "How do you know all this stuff?"
"Because I'm cool." I said jokingly (apathy is still cool, right?)
"No you're not. You probably used to be but you are definitely not cool now."
Now I left home to join a band. I gave up everything to follow my dreams to their fruition, for good or for ill and I actually got to do it for a living. I oozed cool. Greasy pompadoured hair and tattoos and pimp clothes...Hot damn, I personified cool. But somewhere along the line my coolness disappeared. It must have somehow ended up in the laundry and shrunk right up. You know how delicate cool can be.
The Boy's words echoed in my ears for a couple of days and really got under my skin... "You probably used to be but you are definitely not cool now." I started to think of my own parents. I remember seeing pictures of them in their teenage years. They looked cool but by the time I came along all evidence of that had long since vanished...
I started to examine things around me and put two and two together. I came to the realization that the little gutter-snipes had ruined me. I had gone from rampaging rock god to beaten down, grey haired and mumbling to himself Dad in a hail of spit up and shitty diapers.
From the Boy's stark announcement to Izzy's confidence crushing "Oh, Daddy you're funny." at picture's of me on tour, I have become that guy...that Dad. I knew things would change after the birth of my daughter but I had no idea what effect it would have on me...on my social persona.
I was at a piping competition over the summer and one of the kids in the band had a bloody nose. Like the gunfighter of old my hand moved on it's own, without any conscious thought from me, toward the young pipers nose. Clutched in my hand was a MacDonald's napkin. I have no idea where it came from nor how it ended up in my hand or even why my brain thought it would be appropriate to jam a serviette into the face of a virtual stranger. The weird part is that none of the other parents even looked at me twice. Apparently parent is another name for universal caregiver. I find myself putting things in my car that I would never, in a million years, need to put in there. A steady supply of wet naps and dry napkins, books, toys of various sizes, at least one bottle of water, one car seat and car chargers for the various video games that they are both playing now. Thank god they both have decent taste in music. If I had to have a kiddie music preset on the car radio(no joke, such stations exist) I would be forced to pluck out my eyes with a blue spork and mash them into my ears.
And it will happen to you...you will be cool one minute and in a heartbeat (your first child's first heartbeat to be precise) your cool points will get together like dozens of little Fonzies and get in line to start jumping tiny little sharks. This phenomenon doesn't seem to effect women in the same way. Maybe because children always side with their mothers anyway...cool or not.
Here is a frightening example of what has happened to me (and all fathers before me I'm certain). I was on my way to work on a cold night when an attractive young girl walked in front of my car to cross the street. In the normal run of things I would have thought she was cute or hot or any number of cliche's but the first thing that ran through my mind was "She should be wearing a hat."

We live in the country and so we are occasional hosts to wildlife. We have seen our share of bats and stray cats and squirrels and those bastard box elder bugs. There were literally millions of them covering our garage this past summer and now we get the odd one crawling around the house now that the cold is here. Everyone is so immune and apathetic to their presence now, even Izzy will pick them up and throw them in the toilet. The first time I did this she asked why I did it.
"I was giving him a burial at sea. Like in the navy." I said.
" I want to tell mummy we have a sea in the toilet." she said.
We have had raccoons trying to be inconspicuous while rummaging through the garbage and skunks spraying the cat (which I secretly found hysterical and fitting) I've seen hawks in the backyard, dead turkeys by the side of the road and I have even seen a coyote running through a field not a half mile from here. But the worst of all these...the scourge of our house is the GOD-DAMNED mouse that has been running around here for the last month.
I normally wouldn't care about this sort of thing but for the Hansel and Gretel trail of mouse turds that run though the basement and the cat smacking at the basement door at all hours of the night. I made an informed decision that the mouse had to go and set about to dispose of it.
I don't like glue traps, I find them cruel and messy and they get stuck in your pocket too often (don't ask). No for my money I want death to come on swift wings and the scent of peanut butter. I laid out two traps in the basement and waited. I went down the next day to nothing. No dead mouse and no trap. The trap was gone...vanished. I felt myself channeling Quint from jaws..."Y'all know me. You know how I earn a libbin'. I'll catch this mouse for you but it won't be easy."
"Daddy, who are you talking to?" Izzy asked.
"Sorry Pick, nobody. I'm trying to find the trap I set for the mouse."
"The trap is gone?" she asked.
"Yep," I said. "Completely vanished."
"Wow," she said. "I don't want to be down here with a mouse."
I had visions of the mouse sitting in his living room with his T.V. on the trap.
"Better mousetrap." I said out loud to no-one. And so I bought a gruesome high-tec looking beast that actually has a part called a killing bar. Sadly however, salad bar would be a more appropriate name for it as this thing was little more than a feeding station for our new mouse pet.
Several days and eight pounds of peanut butter laden mouse shit later, I had come downstairs to find a medium sized brown field mouse going to town on a leftover piece of pizza that had been left on the kitchen counter. My opportunity had come at last and I went to find a shoe box. Apartment living has got to be wearing on him now. If I can convince him that condo living is the way to go-it's into the shoe box and out the door. (That's how it went down in my head anyway)
So the mouse has taken up residence behind the stove now where there is a steady supply of mousey sized food stuffs that would please even the most discerning rodent palate.Three hots and a cot...nothing but the best for our mouse. Izzy asked me today if she could see the dead mouse from the other night.
"There is no dead mouse." I said.
"Did he get away?" she asked
"Yes honey, the mouse got away behind the stove."
"Daddy," she asked. "Why didn't you just kill him? We'll never get him out from the stove."
I guess because I'm weird too...

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Full Moon Fever...For Vomitorious Service...

Izzy has been walking around the house, practicing her mothering skills. Cradling her doll lovingly and gingerly in her arms and talking on the cell phone.
Izzy:(into cell phone) Hello Emily. Yes I am STILL here. No...no...yes but...wait a minute. (to doll) Shh honey it's O.k. I'm here. Yes Emily. Can you hear that? She's been sick and crying all day. It was funny at first but now it's just annoying and old. Wait just a minute. (to doll) Shut up baby! Mommy's on the phone...

There is a cold or flu that is cutting a wide swath through the region and naturally Izzy and the Boy both have been struck down by it. At the risk of sounding like a calloused jerk, I hate sick kids. I don't mean sick kids make me angry, though they might a little bit. (selfish little buggers) No what I mean is it is the one time that all kids want is to feel better and that is precisely thing you can't do for them. You can get them soup or ginger-ale and kinder eggs and you can let them watch all the T.V. they can handle and let them not eat if they don't feel like it but in the end you are powerless against it and have to let it run it's course.
They both have been running fairly high fevers, the Boy especially. If high fevers were an Olympic event, the Boy would be a gold medalist many times over. 103-105 is not an uncommon number for him and it's been like that pretty much his whole life. Now the fun part, if you can call it fun, is when he is in the grips of a fever like that, his brain tends to go for a walk and take his body along for the ride. When Mrs. Narrator first told me about it, I thought she was pulling my leg...
I remember one time in particular that we had all gone downstairs to get him medicine to try and bring his fever down. A bottle of aspirin got knocked over and immediately the boy dove for it and began to shift the pills around like a chicken scratching at feed corn.
"Just leave them buddy," I said.
"I have to pick them up, Sid," he said in an agitated voice. "I have to pick them up or the robots will get them and then what will we do?"
"What robots?"
"The ones that are in my room, floating above my bed...just waiting..."It was an odious warning and I had to bite my lip to keep from laughing.
It's not that he's sleep walking but he's not quite awake or in control of all his faculties either. We have heard about the robots and mice in the walls and the mysterious and sinister Third Brain (my personal favourite). This time around he is seeing numbers on peoples faces, glowing red numbers. Isn't there a music video with someone who sees numbers above peoples heads? Maybe my number is up.
Isobel is a standard sick girl. Fevers without the trippy dreams, nodding off on the toilet seat, snotty noses and shiny sleeves.(I used to know people that paid money to act the same way) Her voice drops at least four octaves and when in full grips of the bug, she sounds a little like Lucille Ball. I half expect her to walk around the house swilling whiskey and barking "God-damn it Ricky that was supposed to be my close up." A father can dream.
We knew she was feeling better when her appetite returned along with her sense of humour.
She had just finished her lunch (all of it which in and of itself is a rarity ) and was laying on the sofa. Fully clothed except her pyjama bottoms were pulled down just enough for her bum to be sticking out, completely.
"Izzy your pants are falling down." I said.
She looked down at the front of her pyjama bottoms. "No they aren't Daddy, see?"
"They're falling down at the back, your butt is hanging out."
"Well," she began. "My head isn't feeling hot anymore from being sick but my bum is still kinda sick so I need to cool it off."

I have never done well with vomit. I am not afraid of it nor repulsed by it. But just the same, I wouldn't want to put on my wellies and go slopping about in it either. No my issue with vomit is that it comes generally without warning and that it awakens something primitive in my brain and all reason goes out the window with it. I could stand next to someone with a sucking chest wound and remain quite calm and sensible and generally be of some type of use. But when the gastric-torpedoes start to fly, instinct kicks in and I must flee. Not alone mind you, oh no. My brain will actually tell me to grab who or whatever is doing the vomiting and flee!
I remember coming home from a New Years party after far too much to drink. Feeling quite ill and knowing full well that spew was in the mail, did I throw up in the cab? No. In the street where it would mix harmlessly with the snow and be taken away by cars? No. No, I had to run toward the bathroom that was down in the basement behind two locked doors in my house. I left a trail from the road to the side door.
Now Isobel's stomach and I are already mortal enemies as became evident in Mexico, so when Izzy had a bit of a stomach thing a while back, we had a bowl at the ready and Mrs. Narrator was set to go off to roller derby. As I said before, vomit comes with no warning. Izzy had been eating a little and her spirits had generally improved but we knew she wasn't quite a hundred percent when she laid down for a nap mid afternoon.
She calmly sat up, opened her mouth and let fly a stream of second hand soup a hundred and twenty feet across the living room rug. Did I reach calmly for the bowl that sat mere inches beneath my bilious daughter? No, I picked her up and ran toward the bathroom.
"Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit, oh shit!" I muttered while carrying her.
"Daddy, I'm sick" she gurgled as we ran. The trail stretched from the living room to the bathroom and over most of the bathroom floor. In fact, I`m not entirely certain if any vomit actually made it into the toilet. She was covered and I was was covered and the bathroom and living room floors were both covered. Mrs. Narrator screeched that I should be ashamed of myself and maybe I should have but it seemed perfectly reasonable to trot across the living room with a child who had become a kind bile fountain...it did at the time anyway.
And I have done the same with the cats too. Pick them up and run like a bastard toward the back door and wonder why there is never any puke outside when I let them back in... I remember a while back when Izzy had informed us that a certain word had entered her vocabulary, she noted "Daddy, I don't like this carpet anymore. It smells like shit." but does compounding the problem give you the right to complain?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Izzy's first haircut...Kleptobel...

Izzy was playing with several pairs of Mrs. Narrators shoes...
Daddy:"How many shoes do you need out? Put the ones away that you aren't playing with.
Izzy:"But I'm still playing with all of them."
Daddy:"You've only got two feet, you can only play with one pair of shoes at a time. Put the rest away in the closet."
Izzy:"But daddy, I need the shoes to be out and my leg really really hurts. It hurts too much to put shoes away."(at least that's what I could make out through instantly whipped up tears)
Daddy:If your leg hurts, you should lie down on the couch and you can't wear shoes on the furniture. Put them in the closet."
She went out in defeat and started to put the shoes away. From the entry room with the shoe closet I heard Wham..."Jackass." Wham..."Jackass." Wham..."Jackass." I wanted to go look but thought better of it just as she was coming back into the living room.
Daddy:"Put all the shoes away?"
Izzy:"No. The jackass shoes wouldn't fit in the closet so I just put them on the shoe racket."

So Isobel went for a haircut this past weekend. Of course it isn't actually Isobel's first haircut, Mrs. Narrator has been giving her Moe Howard trims for ever and a day. It isn't even her first 'going to a salon' haircut. But Izzy's hair has been an adventure since the beginning. She was born with hair (greasy and nasty as it was) and it seemed that was her hair quotient, used up all at once because it never much grew after that. She had a mullet for as long as any of us can remember and I think we were honestly a little afraid to cut it, in case it never grew back. But grow it did and soon, like every little girl I have ever known became wild and unruly and cool and so very metal and got entangled in everything. I couldn't pick her up without pulling her hair. Putting on her jacket became a two and three man job between holding her hair and putting on the jacket and moving the hair and zipping the jacket. Putting her in her carseat was a nightmare of tugged tresses and tears. But no more my friends...
Isobel's new favourite movie is "Ramona and Bezus" which after only a few viewings, she can recite almost entirely from memory. The title character Ramona has a cute bob haircut and Izzy was instantly taken with it.
"I want my hair like that." she said and after more than a couple of "Are you sure?" it was decided to make her a hair appointment. The Boy also went along for his biannual, nothing too drastic trim. (Which he always claims as too short) So I kissed her goodbye and took one last look at her long hair.
I am not a fan of long hair, really but when you see something everyday for that long you get accustomed to it. I knew it would be different but when she walked (read strutted like a model, complete with a little spin) through the door, you could have knocked me over with a feather.
"Do you like it?" I asked her.
"No, I love it." she replied and modeled herself off into the living room. She actually would do a little end of the cat walk turn wherever she walked for the next couple of days but I was happy that she liked it. It could have been so much worse if she had hated it and wanted her old hair back. I can see myself now going to the salon and getting them to explain to Isobel that you can't just stick hair back on. Or worse going wig shopping with a five year old.
The funniest thing about this haircut is she seemed to grow a bunch of years right after she got it. She left the house as a little girl, my little girl and came back a full blown kid. It made me think that she is growing up a bit more every day and there isn't a damn thing I can do to stop this crazy ride except sigh and try to hang on...

I'm certain Isobel isn't the only kid who has ever been like this but lately we've started noticing that she takes things. Mostly Mrs. Narrators things and the important ones at that. There's no malice in it, it's just that Izzy chooses to incorporate things within her reach as part of the ever growing make believe kingdom she plays in. If she is not getting herself into trouble or being a pest to anyone else, you tend not to notice what she is up to. And I honestly don't believe that Isobel thinks what she is doing is wrong. She's never sneaky about it, she quite matter of fact about everything she does in her world.
Unfortunately her world and ours don't often exist harmoniously. Things tend to turn up missing when they are needed most...as is always the way.
In no particular order, Isobel has "misplaced" the following;
My wallet and various items therein, Mrs. Narrator's wallet, (on two separate occasions) Mrs. Narrator's birth certificate, (in one of the wallets) Mrs. Narrator's car keys, (at least three times and always on the way out the door when they are discovered gone).
Here is where the fun begins. Trying to remain calm while attempting to extract information from a child that knows you are upset and has become a deer caught in the headlights, is really the purest example of the curse that you parents spat at you when you were young."Just wait until you have kids of your own..."
Now you do and now you are late for a Doctor's appointment looking for a wallet that will turn up two days later in a Lego container or car keys that appear mysteriously in a sewing machine box or a credit card that will turn up a week after you have abandoned hope of finding it, in a bag in your bedroom closet that the child had no access to. And the best is even if you lose your mind and blow up at the child...it won't stop her from doing it...Kleptobel lives!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Repetition all over again...dear DSI-ary

I usually have a good idea where Izzy gets some of the things she says. It's not hard to find her influences as she goes about her day. There are time however, when she will let something fly that has no basis in anything but her own skewed reality. This was one such occasion. I picked her up from school as usual and she wasn't acting at all like her self.
Daddy:"What's the matter, you seem upset?"
Daddy:"No, really pick, what's the matter?"
Daddy:"I can't help you if you don't tell me what it is."
Daddy:"O.K. when you feel like talking..."
Isobel:(cutting me off) "My eyebrows stink."

I suppose it was inevitable that this day would come, I just didn't think it would happen until she was well into her teenage years. Isobel has informed me that she no longer likes school, in fact she hates it.
"I am five now(for two days by her calculations) and I don't like school anymore. It's boring for me now. I should be done."
"What is boring about it?" I asked.
"We do all the same crap all the time," she said. "we sing wheels on the bus and we do spelling and learn about dinosaurs. Over and over again and I've done that too many times now. I should be done."
I thought about this for a while. It was not something so black and white that had a definite solution and if I were too laid back about it, I would appear to not care about her education which would give her permission to not care either. And that just wouldn't fly around here.
"Maybe you could talk to the teacher about how you feel and maybe she might be able to give you some new things to do that you don't know already."
She pounced on this. "I tried to talk to her already. I asked her what the hell we are doing here but she wouldn't answer me."
I tried to sympathize. "Maybe you just have to tough it out for a bit more to get to the new stuff. I was bored a lot in school too but I did get to learn lots of new things."
"I HATE wheel on the bus." she said.
I could see she was starting to get pretty wound up over things and I felt bad but I was also a little giddy at the tirade that I knew was about to be released. She didn't disappoint.
"AAAAND, Edith is younger than me and she pees her pants. AAANNNDDD she doesn't know what dead is. I told her her do you now what dead means? She said that it means they put a blanket over you and you go to sleep and that isn't it at all. I do that every night and I'm not dead. I told her that dead means dead and that's it and I don't pee my pants. And that's why I don't want to go to school anymore."

So it was Isobel's birthday this week. The big 05...it really does seem like it was yesterday that I could hold her in one hand. (which I learned quickly is a very stupid and foolhardy thing to do...) She wanted a video game like the Boy has ans so we got her one. A pink hand held which has become her new best friend.
My mother called to wish her a happy birthday and asked her what she got. The conversation went something like this.
Nana:"Happy birthday Isobel. What did you get from Mummy and Daddy?"
Isobel:"I got a DSi, a pink one."
Nana:"Oh, what is that? What is a DSi?"
Isobel:"It's a DS with an i in it."

She has one game, the point of which more or less eludes me but she seems to enjoy it. Not nearly as much as she enjoys its other features. It has a built in camera and effects to manipulate the pictures you have taken and it has a voice recorder...a diary...an invisible friend that can finally give feedback. She has been speaking into this thing virtually since she unwrapped it and she speaks to it as though it were a person.
"So where was I? Oh, yeah, I have to go back to school and I hate school but I already told you that."
Maybe she has a friend overseas that she sends these messages to?
She walks around the house giving guided tours to the DSi.
"This is our kitchen and that is my Mom. She is making supper. And that's my brother. He is playing a DSi too. And that's my Dad and he drinks scotch.(Single malt to anyone thinking of a nice gift and in my own defense, I was not drinking at the time.)
When I was a kid the best gift I ever got was a pellet gun like all the other kids in the neighbourhood. There was a sense of belonging and being like the rest of the gang once I got it. I slept with it a couple of times...My brother shot the next door neighbour in the ass(and blamed me for it) with it while he mowed his back lawn and I never saw the gun again...
Izzy hasn't taken to sleeping with the DSi just yet but she has joined in with the ranks of millions of other kids hunched over little glowing boxes, slowly going blind from squinting. It is a heartening feeling and really does give a sense of family now to yell "SUPPER!" at the top of my lungs and have two kids completely ignore me.