Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Izzy's Easter Message to the World...Total Izzy-osity...

As we had a decided lack of invitations to Easter dinner with my family or Mrs. Narrator's family...or anybody's family for that matter, we decided to have our own sit down type dinner. A great big ham and all the appropriate Easter trimmings therein.
Isobel: "What are we having for supper?"
Daddy: "A big ham with corn and scalloped potatoes."
Isobel: "Corn on the cob?"
Daddy: "Yes but without the cob."
Isobel: "Awww, I want corn on the cob, not no cob corn. What else are we having?"
Daddy: "Yummy ham and scalloped potatoes."
Isobel: "Oh god, no cob with my corn and nothing else to eat."
Daddy: "Try the ham, I think you will like it. It's sorta like bacon."
Isobel: (Tries ham after much deliberation and one threat of being sent to room for non-consumption of supper) "Oh my god, I love this ham!(chew chew) This ham is so good (lip smack, smack) This tastes like...Tae Kwon Do.

We were downstairs, as we often find ourselves, me on the treadmill and Izzy preaching to the huddled masses in her imaginary world. "Easter is coming soon and you have all been rotten swines!" she began. "Easter Bunny will not be bringing chocolate for none of you. NONE!" She became very quiet and I imagined it was because she was basking in the sycophantic wailing of her toadies. A new voice emerged.
"O.K. boys and girls, Easter Bunny will be coming soon and he will bring treats to everyone that is good." She had turned herself completely around to face the opposite way from the 'minions' she was just chastising. She was speaking in very calm, measured tones and holding a dancing Santa toy. I thought I might point out the seasonal discrepancy but thought better of it. "So boys and girls if you're good, like Santa is good, not like THEM," she blurted, motioning to the invisible quaking minions behind her. "Then Easter Bunny will come and bring you..." Her voice trailed off.
"Daddy?" she called out.
"Yes my daughter?" I asked , sensing the imminent question would not have an easy or one word answer.
"Do bunnies really lay eggs?"
Oh my head began to swim with smart-assed answers about what bunnies really lay began to fly into my head but she is only five and wouldn't get the jokes anyway. I thought I would save these jokes for the Easters yet to be. I opted for the short straightforward answer.
"No, bunnies do not lay eggs."
"How does Easter Bunny leave eggs then?" she asked.
"Well you see," I began. "The baby jesus rides The Easter Bunny all across the world delivering colourful candy eggs to all the children everywhere who have put a cod-fish on top of the stove."
She stood there blinking for what seemed like forever, taking in this information and mulling it over.
"Daddy?"she asked.
"That does not even make any sense." Where do the eggs come from. If you don't know, you can tell me. It's O.K."
Well she bought it for half a second anyway. She went on to ask me if having a bunny for a pet made the Easter bunny feel better and then give you more candy. I was floored by the logic in thins line of thinking but explained to her that having rodents for pets, no matter how cute and fuzzy they are, did not guarantee more candy. If fact it didn't guarantee anything but handfuls of rabbit crap.
Later on that night as we were getting ready for bed, she imagined that if Easter bunny were there right then he would crawl all over her and say 'Happy Easter everbody' and crap on your head...I imagine Hallmark will be calling anytime now...As an after thought, The Easter glut of chocolate consumption began for Isobel and The Boy at around 7:00 a.m. and continued until just before bedtime. There have been studies which claim there is no correlation between sugar consumption and acting freaking out crazy and otherwise ill-mannered behaviour...HORSE PISS.

We were heading up to bed the other night and Izzy pulled up her underpants in such a way that the back of them disappeared between her little butt cheeks. Like a thong.
"Izzy what are you doing?" I asked.
"I like it like that," she replied. "it's comfortable."
"She gets this from your people," said Mrs. Narrator. "Nobody in my family does this kind of thing."
Even The Boy chimed in; "Yeah Sid, this is from your side of the family!"
"Don't look at me, my people wear kilts and no underpants. We don't cram the underpants up under there."
We all had a good laugh and soon I found myself reading to her and watching her eyes begin to close.
"Daddy?" Isobel asked barely awake.
"If I put on my kilt, can I take off my underpants?"
"Not tonight, honey." I said.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Isobel gets all warm and fuzzy...Jammin' on Raspberries...

It finally looks as though winter might be on the way out and the warm weather seems imminent. Along with shorts and tank tops and bathing suits comes the greasing of the children with sun screen. Covering the children completely has become a sport around here, not unlike wrestling a greased pig only not as easy as that. It takes me back to the last time we were in Mexico.
She had put on her bathing suit and was walking around the swimming pool.
Daddy: "Izzy, if you're going to stay out here, you need more sunscreen on."
Isobel: "I don't want it on me, no."
Daddy: "At least let me put more on your face."
Isobel: "I don't want sunscreen on me. I don't like it on me. It feels like shit on my cheeks."
Daddy: "What? What did you say?"
Isobel: (singing) "On my cheeks!"

From very early on, Izzy was Daddy's little girl. I don't remember a time when she wasn't interested in being with me in one way or another. when she was very young of course I was handed her by a very tired Mrs. Narrator the second I got home from work and held her for nearly every waking moment between feedings. I can remember reading an article about deepening the bond between parents and children (yes fathers too) with skin to skin contact.
I confess I felt a little odd about it but I grew up in a house that was not very close or emotionally available and I was bound and determined that I would do what I could to have a close relationship with my baby. So I walked around every now and again, shirtless and carrying her. I don't know that it made us any closer then we would have been had I not taken the crunchy granola laden path but I do understand now why old ladies are driven wild by baby skin. Why they find it irresistible and in spite of what the world would tell them about how wrong it is to touch another person's child, they are powerless and must pinch and coo and sniff. Like a Dad with a new car, they are drawn to it...new baby smell...oooohhhh.....but I'm wandering.
As she got older, Izzy would follow me around. She was my shadow and insisted on knowing my every movement.
"Going?" she would ask. (This roughly translated to 'Oh Father light of my life, from whose loins I sprang, where are you going and what are you doing? It must surely be important as your steely brow is furrowed with concentration and a clear sense of purpose and I wish to inquire if I might join you in these tasks?') I might be paraphrasing a little...She was my sidekick. When I ate, she ate. When she napped, I napped. If there I was, she wasn't far behind...my pal.
But then something changed and Dad became Persona non Grata. Not only did she not want to be my shadow anymore, she went through a period of not listening to me even if I was saying something good. I am told this sort of thing is normal and children go through episodes of liking Mommy best and then back to liking Daddy best. Normal it may be but it didn't make it sting any less when she didn't want to have tea parties of come out to the garage and muck around with me.
From time to time, I would get little glimpses of 'Old Izzy' and my pal would try to come to the surface.
"Daddy!" she shouted as she leaped across the room at me.(This is no lie, she actually caught air before I caught her) but she would quickly reign herself back in and was back to treating me with cool distance. This went on for a while and I actually thought of asking somebody what I should do to win back my little girl. (Who in the hell would I ask?)
In the last few weeks, I have seen a change and she will insist on my cuddling with her at bedtime. Even when I get home from band practice, after nine most nights, if she is still awake then I am expected to go give her a cuddle before she will go to bed. I have her back...for now...
I inadvertently stumbled on a pattern. When Izzy listens to Rock and Roll, Daddy rules and she can't love me enough. When it is Justin Bieber and his ilk she doesn't want anything to do with me. Now I don't want to draw any conclusions between bad behavior and the tousle haired moppet from Stratford but if I ever meet him face to face we're gonna have words...
A few nights ago I was instructed by Mrs. Narrator to go in and give her a cuddle. I was all aglow and headed into Isobel's' bedroom. She lay there with half a dozen books around her which I started moving so as to get into the bed beside her.
"Whoa, whoa, wait." she said.
"I'm not going to spend a lot of time cuddling you if you aren't going to move the books." I replied.
She blurted out "I told Mummy that I wanted a hug from you, not a snuggle."
"Oh," I said. "O.K." and bent down to give her a hug and a kiss good night."
As I bent down, she rose up and we ended up bumping heads.
"Hey watch the head, will ya?" she said.
I came in before I went to work and found her fast asleep with all of the books in her arms...reading in bed makes me sleepy too...

Isobel has a skill like no one I have ever scene. She came into it early on in her life and has developed her expertise in it steadily ever since. Isobel can blow raspberries.
Now I know what you're thinking, everybody can blow raspberries, even babies can blow a raspberry and that is true. So I want you sitting there, reading this to blow a raspberry...go ahead no one is looking...make a circle with your lips, puff out your cheeks, stick your tongue out just a little and blow until you get that familiar 'ppffhhzzzt' sound. Simple right?
Now, put your top teeth over your bottom lip, as though you were pretending to have really buck teeth, and blow...that is how my daughter makes the sound of a raspberry. I have been and remain baffled by how she can do this. She is flawless using this technique and can repeat it time after time.
I remember when she first did it, we were at the kitchen table when I saw her do it and actually asked her out loud, "How the hell are you doing that?" Mrs. Narrator didn't think it such a big deal until she too saw the way she was doing it. The Boy was flabbergasted by this performance as well and soon the three of us were attempting to mimic Isobel. Sadly all that came out of it were three wet chins and not a single Bronx cheer save the ones coming out of Izzy's mouth.
She has become so adept at it that she can make it wet (by sound or actual moisture) louder, softer, different pitch and timber. Sometimes you could swear there is a smell to them. I figure that if she keeps going at it there will not be a style of bottom-burp that she will not be able to imitate...and then I'm going to take her for a ride...on a crowded elevator...

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Take it around the block once or twice...Frankiln meets Isobel...

Izzy was sitting in the living room amidst an ever growing pile of paper clippings.
Daddy: "Whatcha doing, Pick?"
Isobel: "Cutting paper."
Daddy: "Are you supposed to be using scissors by yourself?"
Isobel: "Mommy said I could if I was very careful."
Daddy: "What scissors are you using?"
Isobel: "The ones with the round end. I was going to use the ones with the pointed end but I might poke myself with the and that would hurt like hell."

Izzy is a cry-baby. Well, that's what she would have been called around my house if she grew up when I did. Around here we are a little less severe but the sentiment is the same. She gets upset and cries over just about anything. From skinned knees to clean up your mess, to tired and sleepy and come to supper. All of these have generated tears at one point or another.
Tough tears seem to be what she is most comfortable with, they are not her sole means of emotional response. She can go from smiling and laughing to full on rage in the blink of an eye. From there she can slip into the doldrums and back to smiling and happy and come completely full circle back to a vicious weeping jag.
"You're going to use all the tears you have for your whole life." Mrs. Narrator will often say to her. "What are you going to do when you have no more tears left?" Sure it gets to be a bit much but it also gets me to thinking and it dawned on me that my five year old is dealing with full grown emotions.
You don't get an instruction manual with them and nobody can prepare you for when they kick in. Obviously, they don't grow with you either, you get the full on grown up versions all at once.
I use this as an example, the kind of moment of clarity that I had with all of this. We were sitting watching T.V when she reached over to hug me. That in and of itself was a little odd but it was the way she delivered the hug. Full on bear hug around my neck. So tight it began to constrict my breathing.
I could see the look on her face and, surprise surprise, it wasn't a look of pure evil and I couldn't hear any of the creepy music from the Omen. No, it was a look of love. Pure unabashed love. She told me as much. "I love you Daddy", she said. "I just love you so much." I could feel her tightening the hug. I had to say something.
"I love you too honey but you're choking me."
"Sorry Daddy, I'm just reeeaaallly happy."
And that's when it hit me.
Whatever switch we have in our heads that says 'ooh, that hug is going over board' or 'I need to dial that back a little' is what grows with us but we are left with the dilemma of trying to deal with full grown emotions in a brain that is still in it's basic stages.
I bet things flow through her head like this: Sleep; wake up; eat; breathe; play; poop; eat again; breathe more; eat more; maybe sleep more or maybe just something to eat; HOLY SHIT DO I EVER LOVE THIS CAT! eat more; poop again; still breathing must keep breathing; I WILL KILL THAT GOD-DAMNED CAT IF IT DOESN'T SHUT IT"S GOD-DAMNED PIE HOLE.
For a kid that tends to like things on full throttle to begin with, it must be a daunting thing to take a turn on the mood swings every time you get a glimmer of a feeling. Good or bad.
In a perfect world, we would all go to the emotional used car lot. Salesmen would walk right up to us and say things like: "I can tell you're someone who knows love when they see it so I'm not eve going to try and sell you love today...but I have this ambivalence that I just got back from a three year lease that ran out and if you like it I'll throw in a free sense of irony. That's completely free of charge... Wait, don't answer now. Take er for a test drive and let me know what you feel after some time behind the wheel."
This is not however, a perfect world and until it is I guess she'll just have to go through it like the rest of us. We'll try not to let her struggle too much.

There is a project going on a Izzy's school which involves Franklin (The turtle from the stories and T.V. shows.) and all the children in Izzy's kindergarten class. The idea being that every child take home the stuffed Franklin doll and a note book and write about what Franklin did while he was with you.
It's a neat idea with the same sentiment as getting to bring home the class pet, like we did when I was in kindergarten but without the potential for disaster and heartache on an epic scale hanging over you. Incidentally, the kindergarten guinea pig died while in the care of another student. Long before it was my turn...if any of you were wondering...and I know you were.
Anyway Izzy decided that her and Franklin would watch a movie together and I was proud of her picking an activity that was easy enough to report and not to out there to make the other children think she was an odd ball. Ironically the only movie Franklin would watch, according to Izzy, was one of his own...a little vain but what do I know about stuffed turtle egos.
The sat down to watch the movie and Izzy made sure he was comfortable and then she got up to go to the bathroom...and it all went bad from there.
"Franklin, just stay there and watch the movie, I have to go to the bathroom." she said.
Now I wasn't looking at the turtle the whole time and couldn't say for sure but I didn't see him move.
"I told you not to move and to just watch the movie." she said, the venom rising in her voice. "Now I will be right back. Don't you move."
She disappeared for a moment and then reappeared, her voice on the ragged edge as she screamed at him.
"Dammit Franklin, I told you to watch that movie!" she reached over to pick him up and drilled him across the room. He landed on his face and she ran to pick him up.
"Oh Franklin," she said. "I am sorry. Let's forget about it and watch the movie."
She asked me later on to help her write about her adventures with Franklin but was unsure how to start.
"How about we just write Franklin and I watched a movie and then he had a nap."
"I love it." she said...she'll make a great mother one day. I'm sure of it.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Mother's love...Izzy's new clothes...

We were talking about Grandmothers and the names by which they go.
Isobel: "Is Nana Linda your Nana?"
Daddy: "No, Nana Linda is my mother."
Isobel: "Who was your Nana then?"
Daddy: "My Nana's name was May."
Isobel: "What happened to her?"
Daddy: "She died."
Isobel: "Because she turned yellow, right?"
Daddy: "That's right."
Isobel: "Is that why you called her Nana-Banana?"

I have struggled this week, whether or not to write about this because things here have always been pretty light hearted but this column has always been about our lives and the truth. As incredible as many of these things have seemed, I pride myself on the fact that it is all real. To that end there are some things that have happened over the past week that have brought to light things that no one wishes to think about or discuss but should be given their due never the less. I beg your indulgence for a while while I exorcise a demon or two...

Mother is the name for god on the hearts and lips of all children. I don't know who wrote that line but it is completely brilliant and completely true. There isn't a child alive (and remember grown up or not we are all somebody's child) when in danger or injured or mad or feeling kind of blue, that doesn't at least entertain the idea of calling out for their mother.
Let's look at the facts Fathers are there for the obvious at the beginning and after that our role consists of driving children to and from anything and everything and grunting and growling about the house, taking of the children to movies and introducing the children to the joys of fast food and bodily functions and helping the children to get away with things right under the very noses of their Mothers. But Mothers are there for EVERYTHING else. They are comfort and protection and love and warmth and the list is endless. Even Denis Leary goes off on tangent after tangent about the strength and importance of the bond between his wife and their children, why? Because it is absolutely true. Think about it, when is the last time somebody in a war movie lay dying on a beach calling out for his father?
A few recent events have started me thinking about my children and their mother...I recently learned of the death of a friend. Although I had not spoken to her in many years, she was instrumental in setting me on the path that ultimately led me to the States and the Rock and Roll adventures therein. She was my age and she left behind two very young children and my heart is breaking for them and for their Father.
But her death has also mad me angry because it was the result of something stupid and something completely preventable. Something that stubbornness and distraction ultimately worsened until it was too late.
Mrs. Narrator was in the hospital this week. It was nothing serious, likely the result of a decidedly un-ergonomic work station but when I spoke to her on the phone it was tingling in the left arm and her heart doing 'odd' things. I suddenly thought of my friend and the children and husband she had left behind.
You can make will until you are blue in the face and I even know people who begin 'preparing' their children for the eventuality of their (the parents) death. But jesus, how do you go about telling you kids that their whole world will not be coming home...anymore?
My kids would miss me (I should bloody hope so) if I were to die suddenly but I don't honestly think it would have the same impact that losing their mother would. Mrs. Narrator can holler at the children and they will still pick her over me if they are in need of comfort, that kind of loyalty and love leaves a massive hole when it is taken from you. My Mother and I have had a tenuous relationship over the years and I am reminded every time I see her, that good or bad she is my Ma and though there were times I hated her I will be inconsolable when she is gone.
I don't want to stand on a soap box because I am the last person to ask for advice on how to NOT be a selfish prick but a few things have become clear to me recently. That once you have children, your life doesn't belong to you anymore. You give up the right to be ignorant and apathetic the second the nurse hands you a baby and calls you mom or dad. I want new bagpipes but the kids need new shoes...it doesn't take a genius... You owe it to your kids to do what you can to stick around, at least until they can fend for themselves and have children of their own. And then you spoil their children rotten and make allies of them the way your grandparents did with you. And even then, you never really stop needing your mother.

This week has seen some growing in the house. Specifically Izzy's image of herself. I am normally one to encourage personal growth and all things individual as far as my kids are concerned but I felt I needed to draw the line somewhere. Isobel has lately taken to wearing a bathing suit under her clothes, at least the top and calling it a bra. At first I was unconcerned with it but it became a regular thing that she insisted on wearing with every outfit. I mean I suppose I should get used to the idea of it. She is a normal girl and she is growing and she will eventually require a real brassiere which I will happily allow her mother to assist her in picking out but beyond that, I really don't need or want to know more.
However, this week she has told me that on two separate occasions she has shown little D her bra (just the strap so nothing bad) and today she strutted around the house in just the said bra chanting "Who wants to see my boobies? Who wants to see my boobies?"
"Good girls never give it away Izzy." I said.
"Never give what away?" she asked
"They never show their bras to people." I said.
"What about bad girls?" she asked.
"Only if they play guitar." I said.
"TWANG" was the sound that came out of the living room.