Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Izzy Channel Esther Williams...Summer Lovin'...

We were walking to brunch when Isobel noticed people playing ping pong by the pool.
Izzy: "Oooh, they're playing Hong Kong."
I laughed out loud at that one.
Izzy: "What? What are you laughing at?"
Daddy: "You called it Hong Kong"
Izzy: "What is that game called?"
Daddy: "Table Tennis but most people call it Ping Pong."
Izzy: "Oops, I missed that one I guess."

There is a slightly guilty pleasure I get, probably most parents get, when your child does something that proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that they are yours. The kids likely aren't even aware they are doing it but in observing the behaviour, a signal is sent to your brain that says "This kid could not be anybody's but mine because that is just what I would have done."
For example, the smile of pride that crossed my face as my five year old daughter beamed at every Mexican within view, all the while screaming 'Deep in the Heart of Texas'. Not because I support the taking of land from the Mexicans but more because it's the fly in the ointment thing to do, the thing to annoy that you can still claim innocence and ignorance...especially when your five. "It's just a song, I didn't know it meant anything bad when I was singing it,' or 'It's just a building, I didn't know it meant anything, I just had to pee.' As she continued to belt it out, I went to her and hugged her.
"What?" she asked.
"Nothing," I said. "Just looking for the tattoos."
"I don't have any yet." she replied.
By that same token however, there are things that come out of Isobel that stupefy. They are not obvious legacies from Mrs. Narrator nor from me. Not even The Boy can claim any influence on some things. Some things are pure Izzy.
We were at the pool and this year she is finally big enough to go in on her own without constantly being held or caught by an adult. And she has become virtually fearless. She will first jump into the pool to get herself wet and then the show begins. She will stand along the edge of the kiddie pool and start genuflecting in ways that would make the pope jealous. First she will shake her hands and feet, (must get that blood flowing for all this activity) next the head and neck shaking, (not for warming up the neck but to get the hair in the correct swimming position as I have been informed) the hands are then firmly clasped above the head in a prayer like position (it's how you dive, Daddy) finally the feet first leaping entry into the two foot deep pool followed by the quick hands up coughing because the mouth was not closed. "Hah!" she screams in triumph. And it's a 9.5 from the Lituanian judge!
This afternoon, the pool was a little on the cold side. I could tell by the 'holy crap, daddy!' But she suddenly summoned up the courage (an a little Dean Martin) and said "It's a little cold but I'm just gonna go for it. OK?" She punctuated the OK with a grin and finger pointed in my direction. Alright so I'll concede Deano's mannerisms but the rest is Vintage Isobel.
We were swimming the other day and Isobel asked for Mrs. Narrator to hold onto her while she swam but it wasn't because she was afraid of the water or unsure of her abilities as a swimmer. No, in the short time we have been here Izzy has become a died in the wool, under the water, don't hold onto me i can do it myself, Daddy watch this, turning underwater summer- saults little fish. In a two week period she has become almost as agile in the water as The Boy.
But no she wanted Mrs. Narrator to hold her so she could perform her 'moves'. Laying back with her head in the water and her arms rigidly locked into contorted positions as her hair billows in the water when she turns. She did it forever it seemed. But only with Mummy. Daddies, apparently are not capable of performing the same way. It's the arms that got me...It looked like synchronized swimming for the spastic...
"She looks like she doing synchronized swimming," said Mrs. Narrator.
"She looks like an Esther Williams movie!" I said using any opportunity for an obscure reference.
"Where in the hell would she see an Esther Williams movie?" Mrs. Narator asked. I quipped something about it being the same place she would see synchronized swimming movies but all the while I'm thinking, 'Who in the hell is showing my kid technicolour swimming movies from the 40's?' and praying to god she never sees anything by Busby Berkely, I don't think we can afford the production costs...

There comes a time in every father's life when he must let go of his little girl and watch her go off with a young man to start a new life. I didn't really figure it would happen when she was five. Yes my little girl met a little boy down here.
At first it was just playing and splashing around in the kiddie pool with him. They seemed to connect on a deeper level than their years, they seemed at least six or seven. Hell, he even got her to go into the hot tub. A first for anyone and she sat and waited for him when he was taken into his condo. And she continued to wait until it broke my heart watching her look over to the door he went in. I went to her and tried to comfort her as best as I could.
"Why did he go, Daddy?"
"He had to go have his lunch." I said. "Everybody needs to eat lunch now and again."
Soon we too were eating lunch and It seemed as though she had put it all behind her, forgotten about him. By the next day it was back to normal and she was back to splashing and carrying on by herself...until he came out and got into the pool.
They played well and he told her it was his last day at the resort. Still he seemed to play hard to get but love will not be stayed nor deflected by petty games. Izzy saw her chance and took it. She grabbed his hand and told all who would listen that this was her boyfriend...There will be a short reception following nap-time...

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Of Tan Lines and Lines in the Sand...What the Hell is a Manana Anyway...

My in-laws had been in Mexico for two weeks by the time got there and their tans were already well developed when Izzy went upstairs to get changed with her Oma.
Izzy:"Oma, your skin is really dark."
Oma: Well we've been here for a while already, I'm nice and tanned."
Izzy:"Oma, it looks like you are wearing a white bathing suit with nipples."

Ah the Mexico house...Buried by snow and suffocated by cold and here we finally are. Sun, sand and sea. The people are warm and friendly and the margaritas are as cold as a really cold non insulting or derogatory thing. It's rich and fattening food and cocktails most nights and bagpipes at the setting of the sun...
It's living like the rich folk. It's the way we will winter if this column ever gets into the right hands (Huge Wink Wink to the powers that be). Honestly, the place is enormous and it is gorgeousity made real. It virtually defies description and this was never meant to be a travel brochure but to those who have not made it down this way, it is well worth the trip.

Now I have been on many planes many times and been trapped with many screaming brats and I have to say my children are angels. Really. Whining, crying, shouting, burping, farting, insolent children tend embarass my kids.
"Daddy, why is she acting like that?" Isobel asked me about a young girl that was kicking up a big fuss while we were in the air.
"I don't know honey. I just don't get it." was my reply. "You don't do that, at all."
"No, I don't do that." she said. I'm positive there was a smirk of pride behind it.
Even during take off and landing, the traditional periods of wailing children, Izzy and the Boy are silent or playing quietly. It is nothing we have done. No threats of switches from the first bush we see after touching down, they have always been a joy to fly with. Other adults have complimented us on our well mannered children. Really. After landing however, our delightful, well mannered angels disappear and two seething cauldrons of avarice and obstinance bubble up out of tarmac and sink their sunscreen soaked talons into our wallets.
I don't know what it is about this place that seems to bring out the worst in the children but we are starting to notice a pattern. If we ask one of them, either of the to do something, you can bet that we will get the opposite of what we want or outright refusal. And it is nothing new. For as long as I have been coming here (Mrs. Narrator and the Boy have been coming here for three years previous to Izzy and I joined the fray) the Boy has refused sunscreen in much the same way that one would refuse to be smeared with feces on a hot summer's day. It is a daily ritual and I cannot imagine that it was any different before Izzy and I were here.
Isobel doesn't mind the sunscreen in fact, it has become a game for her. Put a little on Izzy, put a little on Daddy. Put a little on Daddy, put a little on Izzy. She just doesn't listen, to anyone or anything. Maybe the sun is in her ears? She found a dvd of a previous years visit to the Mexico house and she had been watching it religiously for weeks leading up to our departure. Two things on it are crystal clear. 1) The piping is horrendous in spite of the moustache I thought made me look more like a real piper and 2) There is a scene of Isobel asking if she can drop a leaf over the balcony and Mrs. Narrator saying no. At which point Izzy drops it anyway and just for good measure pushes it off the ledge to make sure it fell. She then turns to the camera with a look that say "What?"
We were at the pool today (all that ocean and my kids want to hang at the pool.) and it more or less dawned on me what happens to the kids once we cross into Mexican air space. My kids are not stupid and clearly never have been and to that end they have us sussed out. Our bluff has been called. Izzy swam around in the pool and I told her it was time to get out.
"C'mon you," I said.
"No." she said.
"Pardon me?" I asked.
"I don't wanna get out, I wanna stay and swim!"
"It's time to get out now," I said getting out of the pool.
She didn't move, even as I started to walk away. I told her she would go back to the condo and spend some time in her room but even that didn't move her. I relented and got back in the pool in an effort to get her to move. She finally did and then it dawned on me. They had both found a place where they could push it beyond where they could ever push it before. What was I going to do, leave her in the pool? Could we really turn the plane around and go back home? Would we really leave the Boy in the condo by himself if he didn't get his god-damned sunscreen on?
No, of course not. And somewhere through all of this growling and posturing, the kids figured out it was just that. Piss and hot air and not a lot of actual punishment behind it. Even the grandparents who are normally the keepers of the peace are being blown off like so much chaff.
The funny thing is that nobody seems to doing much about it...the kids aren't doing anything especially harmful and the adults aren't doing anything especially overbearing and it isn't anything but especially cold at home and it is everything and especially warm here and well there is always Mañana...

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Snowblind...Blue By Spew...

I had gone outside and come back in sometime later and Izzy noticed I had come back in without a coat on.
Isobel: "Daddy, where is your coat? It is freezing outside. You need a coat on."
Daddy: "I was out snow-blowing the driveway. The coat I wear to do that stinks so I leave it in the garage so the whole house doesn't stink like gas."
Isobel: "Daddy, you still stink like ass."

It is that time of year again and we have recently had several dumpings of snow. I purposely held off blowing out the drive way until the snow was past my ankles. It makes for easier blowing and a much larger plume of snow to put over the neighbour's fence.
When we first got the snow blower, the boy would come outside with me and run along side me. Close enough to get doused with snowfall but far enough away to be out of any danger. He still likes to do it once in a while. Izzy was ecstatic at the prospect of being covered with snow.
"Izzy, it's totally fun. You get covered in snow and then we can come in and have hot chocolate." The Boy explained to her.
"Wee-Haw!" said Izzy.
And so I got suited up and went outside while Mrs. Narrator helped Izzy get trussed up like Scott of the Antarctic. It was cold out, yes but when does temperature negate the need for range of motion? I wore a snowsuit(a hand me down from my brother) when I was a kid that was so cumbersome I could not walk in it. I tripped once crossing the street and swear the truck bearing down on me missed my head by mere inches. In reality it was probably several hundred feet from me but the fear was not lost. I went home and tore the ass out of the snow suit with a steak knife and told my mother I got caught on the barbed wire fence around the Spence's field.
"OK Daddy, snow me down now." Izzy said.
"Wait until I blow out the drive way and then I'll blow the snow from the backyard at you so there's no stones in it or anything." I said.
She looked at little worried about the prospect of the snow blower covering her in the ugly white stuff but when I told her it wasn't much different than burying herself in the snow she seemed to lighten up a bit. Plus I think she honestly wanted to try what the Boy seemed to enjoy so much. She had heard him talk about it and saw how thoroughly he seemed to enjoy it.
And so after about an hour, the driveway was pretty clear(anyone who has ever been to our house know this is no exaggeration. An hour at it is just a quick once over) and it was off to cover the kids. Now I should state for the record that I am not a cruel man by nature. If I laugh, it is because something is funny. Not because i want to pour salt on a wound. Now that being said, I pointed the snow blower into the yard and headed for the kids.
"Oh crap, oh crap!" the Boy yelled, barely containing his excitement.
And with a giant FOOSH! he had disappeared in a cloud of soft white powder. If it hadn't been for the laughter, I wouldn't have known if he was still where he had been when we started.
"OK Pickle, are you ready?" I asked.
"Oh crap, oh crap..." she said not with the same relish as the Boy but still amused enough that I let out a laugh. "Oh crap, oh crap," she said again. The fear rising in her voice. "Oh crap, oh crap." she was now crying and running for the door.
"It's OK, Izzy. I won't cover you if you don't want me to." But the damage had already been done. I had left the snow blower running as I walked to her, which was the wrong thing to do.
"Oh crap...MUMMY! Oh crap...MUMMY!" The screen door was stuck(as usual) and she was pulling on it so hard that one of the spindles snapped in her hands. she threw it aside and shook the door as hard and meaningfully as she could. She was in the grips of something atavistic and terrifying and only getting inside was going to fix it.
Mrs. narrator finally came to the door and to the rescue and Isobel disappeared inside. I covered the boy a couple more times but the wind was out of both our sails and it was getting cold outside.
When I got inside Izzy was sitting in the toy room and I figured I better give her a wide berth. She already thought I was the snow blower beast or at least I could control it so I figured I'd let her come to me. Later, I was upstairs and she wandered into the bedroom.
"Hi Pick," I said. "Whatcha doin?"
"Seein' what you're doing." she said.
"Listen," I said. "You know I would never do anything on purpose to scare you right? Next time I'll know that you are scared of the snow blower and I'll keep it far away from you when you are outside."
"I'm not afraid of the snow blower Daddy." she said matter of factly.
"Why did you go running away and try so hard to get into the house if you weren't afraid?"
"I wanted to get in the house so bad because you laughed at me." She said.
The pony will be here in a few weeks.

If past experience has taught us anything, it is that Isobel's stomach and I are becoming mortal enemies. There is a vicious stomach flu going through Izzy's daycare and naturally got it. BUT some important lessons have been learned from it all. Firstly if we are going anywhere, one of the children will be stricken with something. It is unavoidable. Second Isobel becomes more and more insolent as the illness takes its toll. I mean she can be stubborn as a mule at the best of times but when she is fevering wildly she turns into Linda Blair. And thirdly and this really is the important one, vomit comes with no warning.
You would think an old hand like me (having been vomited in the mouth) would have picked up on some sort of chemical signal or something but no. We can be sitting and Izzy will be joking and laughing and sitting up and puking. Just like that. This time there was a bit of a difference. She didn't want to eat supper which we of course attempted to make her do, rather she went to lie down on the couch because she said her leg hurt. As if someone turned on a light switch she sat up and the house instantly became full with that acrid smell. You know the one I mean, there is no other smell like it. Grown-up or child, it all smells the same. The floor and the couch cushions and the coffee table and my arm and Mrs. Narrator's socks all fell before the onslaught.
As I carried away the couch cushions in order to remove the covers, I was struck by something odd and at the same time heard Mrs. Narrator exclaim,
"Oh my god, what did you eat? Oh my god, what did you eat?!!??"
As the vomit on the cushions was full of rubbery globs of what looked like silly putty and they were bright blue. The first thing that ran through my mind was poison control. Was it close by? Did I know the number? Is silly putty toxic? Did she eat blue paint? I fought hard not to panic but I could hear the worried tone in Mrs. Narrator's voice. As I rounded the corner expecting to see my child writhing in the throes of agony with her mother weeping and retching of her twisted little body, I heard my wife exclaim; "Oh right, you had jello for lunch."
It lasted a day or two and I am happy to report that Isobel and the couch cushions and the coffee table and the rug and even Mrs. Narrator's socks are all fine.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Incredible disappearing Dad...Fussy Eating...

Izzy and the Boy were having one of their meaningful and completely reasonable discussions about dinner table essentials and etiquette.

Izzy: "I don't want that. It comes from something that was alive and I'm not eating that."
Daddy:"Most food we eat comes from something alive. It would be pretty hard to not eat something that didn't come from something that was alive."
The Boy: "Yeah Izzy, if you didn't eat food that came from something alive you wouldn't eat any food period."
Izzy: "What's a food period?"

Every household has a kid that won't eat. There is not a threat of beating nor the guilt of starving African children that has ever or will ever make a lick of difference, the kid will not eat. I was that kid...mind you so was my sister but I digress...Not one single frozen, Exorcist vomit coloured, atrocious round, wrinkled nubbin of a pod dweller ever passed these lips willingly. My mother lived under the illusion that the way to ensure kids get proper nutrition is to force them to sit at a kitchen table until they ate the undesirable food. In my case it was frozen peas. Times being what they were, my mother bought bags of frozen peas by the gross and pulled them out at every meal. Hell or high water, her kids would be healthy or they would be sorry. That was the logic. Eat these peas and be healthy or it's a cuff up the back of the head and off to bed you go. If eating dried out, stone cold peas will make you healthy, our dog should have been Charles Atlas...I can't even look at a bag of frozen peas without getting a headache.
It stands to reason then that my predilection toward general pain in the assery (which is really what "fussy eaters" are anyway) should pass directly to my child. And it has, in spades. It started off as Mrs. Narrator and I allowing her to eat snacks before supper to the point of her getting to full. I think this a learning curve that every parent goes through with their child. 'how much can I let my kid eat before supper and still have them eat?' We found out quickly that she can't really snack before supper and still eat anything we've prepared. it just doesn't work out. And I am entirely too willful to say she can have anything but supper food for supper...but like so many other odd and old fashioned notions, my stubbornness is fading like a sunset.
Once the snacking after school was taken away, the resistance to supper time went up exponentially. "I'm hungry, I want a snack," she would say.
"You can't have a snack, you won't eat supper." I would reply.
"Please Daddy, I promise I will eat every bite of my supper." And more often than not, I would fall for it and more often than not, she would be too full for supper. next came the meal logistics and stomach chambers. "but the candy is going to fit on this side of my stomach and supper will go on this side of my stomach. See plenty of room for supper and snack." But this is all bush league stuff. The student has truly surpassed the master and taken fussy eating and turned it into an art form.
She often falls asleep when she gets home from school and trying to get her to eat (if you can wake her up) is almost impossible. But who can eat right after they wake up anyhow? She did however wake up once and proclaim that her belly was hurting because she needed to put food in it. Victory! After the meal was made and we all sat down to eat it, Izzy took one look and announced she didn't like it.
"How can you say you don't like it, you haven't even tried it?" I actually expected her to say that she didn't like it because she had seen it in a dream. The truth was far better. She said that she couldn't eat it because it was disgusting and the smell was giving her a headache.
"Nonsense," I said. "It is not disgusting. Eat your supper or go to your room" At which point she started full on weeping. Massive fake tears were rolling down her cheeks.
"Yes?" I asked "There is some sort of problem?"
"Sitting at the table and smelling supper is giving me a headache and my leg is hurting from it now!" And with that she walked off toward the living room and flopped on the couch like a tuna on the deck of a boat. (We were having left over pizza)
The coup de gras of all of this came about not that long ago. Mrs. Narrator had an appointment and supper was left to me. We were to have smoked sausage and noodles. We have had it dozens of times, made by both Mrs. Narrator and me, all of us enjoy it and we have it regularly. I told Izzy that's what we were having and she was very excited at the prospect of it. She went on and on about how starving she was. "Oh boy Daddy, I am so hungry I'm going to eat two sausages!"
The kids sat down and I brought it to the table and Izzy exclaimed
"This doesn't look anything like it smelled and I am NOT eating this. Should I just go to my room now?"

There is a disturbing trend I have been noticing around our house lately. Both the Boy and Izzy (particularly Izzy) suddenly lose the ability to see or hear me when their mother walks in the room...I'm told that thins is a normal thing and all children go through the Mom is God thing but there was a time when Izzy was about nobody but dear old Dad...oh the times they are a changin'
For example the other day Isobel had a bug up her butt and I seemed to be the constant target. Lots of eye rolling and tongue sticking out and the sheer attitude...the kind of attitude that makes you just want to wallop a child. What a great word that is...because if you do it right, that is the sound made by the ears as they continue to reverberate after the hand has left the back of the head...wait where was I...sorry. Of course we don't hit the children but there are times when a cuff up the ass doesn't sound like a bad idea...I'm meandering. At bedtime, the attitude had not abated and my strain was beginning to show.
"Bedtime," I said curtly.
"I am sitting here because I don't listen. " Isobel said matter of factly. She finally relented, I grumbled and she grumbled and she went to bed.
Now here is the fundamental difference between children and most adults. By the next day her attitude hadn't changed much but I knew it couldn't last all day and then she would get her comeuppance
"Daddy, can I use your Ipod?" she asked sheepishly.
"No." I said.
"Why not?" she asked.
"I am sitting here because I don't listen." I said.
"What are you talking about Daddy? Mummy, Daddy won't let me use his Ipod"...and another ten cent scheme gets shot all to hell by a five year old in a pink AC-DC shirt...