Tuesday, April 24, 2012

How Soon They Forget...The Fear in My eyes...

I love my kids because they are MY kids. By that I mean in a crowd of children anybody would be able to tell mine...easily. Mrs. Narrator was away storming the French roller derby community and so it was the three of us for the whole weekend. We got Hungry man dinners.Everyone loves them...including the cats.
      Daddy: "Guys come and eat before the cats get at your food."
      Isobel: "What are we having?"
      Daddy: "T.V. dinners."
      Isobel: "What is that?"
      The Boy: "Hungry man Izzy. He means Hungry man."
      Daddy: "I do. Chester! Get off that god-damned table! Izzy, Get the cat away from your food."
      The Boy: "Hey Sid, thanks for getting the Hungry man...Georgie! Get off the damn table."
      Daddy: "Don't thank me, it was Mummy who bought...jesus christ cat, will you get off the table!"
      Isobel: "Daddy,  Chester keeps bugging me."
      Daddy: "Yes, he's an ass. Just keep telling him to get down."
      Isobel: "OK but I don't want to say that word."
      Daddy: "You don't have to say any words you don't want to."
      Isobel: "OK. Chester, get the shit off the table!"

     I have been wondering lately if it might be time to hang this up, maybe put it to bed. It has been going on for over two years now and my biggest fear has always been that it might become stale and predictable. Perhaps it already has but the fact remains that just when I think I haven't anything left to write about, something wonderful comes out of Isobel or The Boy and I find myself recharged at least for another week. And maybe in some kind of way that is what it is to be a parent. Just when you've run out of answers, patience, or herb and garlic cream cheese and the children are literally gnawing at your last nerve, they turn around and do something that makes you say "I am supposed to be doing this. These are my kids. I get it." Ultimately I suppose it is up to you the reader whether or not I should continue. If you're still reading, I'm still writing.
    Isobel was in the bathroom doing her make up when I walked in to see what she was doing.
      "Whatcha doing Pick?" I asked.
      "I'm doing my make up." she replied.
      "Alice Cooper make up?"
      "What?" she kind of screeched. "I don't like Alice Cooper."
      "What?" I kind of screeched. "You don't like The Coop?"
       "Daddy, I don't even know who that is."
        "What!?!" I really screeched. "What do you mean you don't know who that is, you wanted to be him for Halloween a couple of years ago."
       "Are you kidding?" she asked.
      I think she was serious, she didn't remember. I was a little shocked. I knew she wouldn't likely retain a lot form her childhood memory bank but this, some of her interests had changed over the course of a summer-last summer and she had next to no memory of them at all.
      "You don't remember that?" I asked.
      "Uh no." Isobel replied.
      "We should talk," I said. "You loved all the heavy bands. All the ones with make up anyway. Kiss, Alice Cooper and even some of the really heavy stuff. As long as they wore make up."
       "Daddy," she said. "I don't like that kind of stuff."
       "You might not now but you did, you loved it." I said. "You can ask Mummy when she gets home, you used to play it over and over and over."
      I wasn't entirely convinced that she didn't remember any of this. She had friends at school now who were definitely not the make up wearing, satan worshipping, head banging lunatic that Isobel was well on her way to being. Isobel has never had a problem with being different but maybe she just didn't want to be THAT different before the first grade.
      So we sat and I watched the videos that she and I used to watch together and she stared in amazement, dumbfounded by the images on the screen.
      "Oh god, Daddy. There's no way I ever listened to any of that."
     I put on the Dimmu Borgir video that she watched every day for nearly a month straight...nothing. She really didn't remember it. And though she remembered her beloved Black Veil Brides, she wasn't interested in their new song....what the hell was going on here?
     I decided I would see if she remembered any of her classic bits. I told her about the minions and her threats of punishment if they didn't follow everything she said.
     "What?" she asked with that tone that says the old man has gone off his nut.
     "No really," I said. "You would scream at them day and night. Mummy and I always laughed and wondered why they kept hanging around you because you treated them some badly."
      She looked at me in disbelief, clearly she thought I was making it all up.
      "And what about Santa?" I asked.
      "What about Santa?" Isobel replied. "I used to play with The dancing Santa."
       "Oh my god," I said. Santa was your right hand man,your trusted lieutenant."
      "What do you mean?" she asked.
      "I mean wherever you went, Santa went. You carried him around and loved him and cuddled him and where is he now?  Forgotten and dirty in the back of my car."
      "Daddy, I don't play like that anymore. I'm grown up now."
      "I guess maybe you are, Pick." I said. I felt a little bit dejected by it.
      I guess I get it now, why at 43 I am still my Mother's baby. Nobody wants there child to grow up. Nobody wants Daddy's little girl or Mummy's little man to be so big  for real . The sooner they grow up, the sooner they don't need you anymore. I mean all this metaphorically of course. When she and The Boy hit 18 they're both outta here.
      Later on that day she went out to play. She still plays in my car, yes but now it's more sitting on the hood   and staring at the sky than delivering a fire and brimstone sermon to the minions. I went out to call her in for supper I stood by the door, about to call her in and I noticed she had Santa. She looked at him and threw him in the car. Then she did something I didn't figure. She opened the door, grabbed Santa, wiped off his face and then gave him a hug before she placed him back on the backseat of my car.
      I called her in for supper. I didn't make any mention of what I had seen her do but the smile she gave me as she walked into the house told be she knew I saw her. I guess maybe she isn't quite ready to be that grown up.
    She went outside after school today and I went out to see what she was doing. I noticed Santa on the ground and I turned him over. Santa has the perfect imprint of a six year old boot across his face.
      "What's this?" I asked pointing at the boot print.
     She shrugged her shoulders and said "Santa just doesn't listen like he used to."

      There is a sound that I think most parents will agree, is terrifying. That is the sound of silence. I don't mean like the kids have gone to the sitters for the weekend and there's no noise in the house or that they have both finally gotten into a movie enough that they have actually managed to shut up and stop fighting with each other for more than twenty minutes.
     No, what I mean is the silence that tells you instantly that something is wrong. I heard such a silence this weekend. Isobel wanted an apple and she also decided to have a glass of water to wash it down. This is not an unusual thing. She has had food and a drink  any number of times without incident and she's six. You'd think that you couldn't make it this far and not know how to eat and drink. Hell, she can walk and chew gum at the same time...I've seen it.
     I was in the kitchen doing the dishes and she was in the living room out of my sight but apparently not out of my hearing. Even over the noise of the dish water, I knew something was the matter. I can't explain it other than to say something didn't sound right. I turned of the water and there was that silence.
      She walked out into the kitchen and I could see by the look on her face that something was very wrong. My first thought was that she was choking on the apple. I ran over to her, fully prepare to do the Heimlich on her. As I reached to grab her, she sputtered and coughed and let out a gigantic burp.
     "I'm OK!" she said in a proud tone.
      "What the hell was that?" I asked. "I thought you were choking on the apple."
       "Nope," she coughed and burped again. "Water went down the wrong hole."
       "Oooh, that sucks. Have a sip of water, that'll help."
       "Are you crazy?" she asked. "Water made me choke, remember?"
       "For real," I said. "Have a sip."
       She had a sip and felt better.
      I returned to the kitchen and after another moment or two of coughing, I saw her walk by, arms raised in triumph.
       "I'm OK!"

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Good Weirdness on a Sunday afternoon...The Rock Star...

I was sitting watching T.V. when Izzy came in and made a face at me.
Isobel: "What the heck is that smell?"
Daddy: "What?"
Isobel: "Oh god, seriously what is that smell? Did you fart or was that the cats?"
Daddy: "Umm...I'm not sure at this point. Could've been either one of us."
Isobel: "Oh my god! (cough, cough, hack gag)
Daddy: "I'm pretty sure that one was me."
Isobel: "Oh god Daddy. I'm getting the Febreeze."
Daddy: "What for?"
Isobel: "Because there is something dark and rotten around your bottom and I think the cats are beginning to smell like you."

Sundays are pretty ritualistic around here. No we don't preform rituals on Sundays (at least not until my back is better) rather they are virtually the same every week. We all generally sleep in, get up and eat ...something resembling breakfast. Occasionally we have The Big Sunday Breakfast but only if Mrs. narrator is feeling motivated to cook said feast and if she isn't, so what? She earns her rest as much as the rest of us and Sundays around here are about as laid back as you can imagine. Even more so after Mrs. Narrator leaves for her Sunday roller derby ritual.
After she leaves, we all assume our respective Sunday positions. The Boy on his couch, ipod in hand. Me on my couch, remote in hand and libation at the ready. And Izzy is usually off doing her absolute best to ensure her rule over her minions is absolute.
Now as I have mentioned, lately Isobel's life has gone from the world of make believe to the real McCoy. Flesh and blood friends and everything and she has been spending a good deal of time at her friends house. I was reminded indeed that it was our turn to be the friend host. And it was. I don't mind when Izzy has friends over, really I don't. But as I said, Sunday has a ritual feel to it, a routine if you will.

Anyway, so it was our turn and around 1:30 Candace showed up for a play date. I love this kid. Peter Boyle in make up...you remember her. Off they thundered, upstairs to play dress up. Now I should mention at this point, that during the course of my Sunday routine, I will often doze off while watching television. Nothing wrong with that, that's what Sundays are for right?
Have you ever dozed off and woken up because you felt you were being watched? It's odd to wake up hand have Peter Boyle as a little girl staring back at you.
"Hi Candace," I said a little confused.
She stood there for what seemed like too long before she actually spoke. "Hi." she said and then remained silent and still.
"Candace, come back upstairs." Isobel shouted from her room...none too soon.
There was thumping and giggling and more thumping and
then there was quiet. I am assuming it was quiet because I dozed off again.
I opened one eye and noticed that Candace was standing in front of me again. Staring at me again.
"I am supposed to wash my hands every time I go to the bathroom." she said.
"That's really important to do." I said. What could I say?
I need to say that despite what you are thinking, Candace is not a creepy kid. I think I was the creepy kid...nobody would tell me if I was or not so I just assumed I was. Candace is not creepy. The reason for the silent wonderment was about to become clear.
I overheard Izzy and Candace murmuring and suddenly Izzy shouted down at me.
"Daddy, Candace doesn't know what to call you."
"How about Lloyd? I've always liked that name." I said.
"Daddy!" Izzy whined. "Seriously she wants to know what to call you."

"Why doesn't she just call me Sid?" I asked.
"She didn't know your name. I told her to call you Daddy."

"But I'm not her Daddy." I said. "Sid would be fine."
About an hour later I had dozed off again ( these are not long sessions of unconsciousness mind, just little cat naps here and there) and awoke to find Candace and Isobel staring at me. Isobel was wearing her black angel wings and halo and Candace was wearing a black party dress of Isobel's and carrying a pitch fork. They were both glaring at me and menacing me with devilish sneers. Both actually looked as though they might be constipated but nevertheless devilish!
And for a kid who hasn't said more than a handful of words to me in the entire time she has known Isobel, Candace was about to utter the moist poignant thing I had heard all day.
"Hello Sid." she menaced at me.
"Stop, stop," Interjected Isobel. "That is not how we say things as Dark Angels!"
Candace let out a heavy sigh. "Well, you would know." she sighed.

I have recently begun playing music again. Non-bagpipe music that is. This has come as a gigantic delight to Isobel. Not only does she get to sing whenever she wants, now she has an accompanist whenever the mood strikes her.
I have taken to playing as often as I am inspired to do so and she always wanders down to see what I am up to.
"Daddy?" she yelled down the basement stairs "Daddy, are you down here?"
"Yep Pick I'm down here."
"What are you doing?" she asked.

"Playing my guitar." I said.
"Wait!" she hollered. "I'm coming down there with you."
I guess she figured I would stop before she had a chance to compose and so the drive was on to get to me.
Thump, thump, thump across the kitchen floor, followed by thump, thump, thump down the basement stairs and in record time she was sitting beside me.

"So, you're playing your guitar, huh?"
"Yup." I said.
"Can we work on my song?" she asked.
"Sure," I said and started strumming. "Whenever you're ready."
"Baby it don't matter what kinda clothes you wear. It don't matter how you have your hair." (I am paraphrasing. There were distinct lines about clothes and hair and there was some sort of rhyme including them both. Truth be told she was reciting boy band lyrics to one of my tunes)

"I am really getting good at this." she said.
"You sure are." I replied.
"Can we play it again ?" she asked. "Only this time make it more rock and roll."
"Sure thing Pick."
Anybody looking for an opening act this summer?

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The End of Innocence-almost...Izzy's boxing lesson...

She had been outside playing...traveller. I guess that is the best way to describe it. She had a rolling Barbie suitcase and rather large gift bag filled with her precious belongings. She would go between my car and Mrs. narrator's. Moving the suitcase and bag each time. And each time she would walk down to the garage to see me before she changed cars.

Isobel: "Daddy?"
Daddy: "What's up Pick?"
Isobel: "I just came to say good-bye. I'm off to L.A."
Daddy: "L.A.? Well that's quite a trip."
Isobel: "It's for my work. I have to teach some yoga."
Daddy: "Yoga? Well, I'm surprised you're not going to San Francisco too."
Isobel: "No." (in that tone that says you are the stupidest man alive.)
Daddy: (she had gone out and come back in about five minutes later) "Back so soon?"
Isobel: "L.A. was too much."
Daddy: "Too much what?"
Isobel: "Daddy. Should I go to San Francisco?"
Daddy: "I would. Lots of yoga there."
Isobel: "O.K!"
Daddy: "What's the matter Pick?" (she had gone out and come right back in)
Isobel: "Lost my luggage."
Daddy: "That happened to me once. I was coming back from Texas."
Isobel: " Daddy, I'm not playing. I can't find my damn bag. I think Mummy drove away with it."

It's funny that the tag line for this blog is about Izzy and her Easter candy. Easter has come and gone and with it a tiny bit of childhood has died away. The Boy has stopped believing in the Easter Bunny.
I don't remember when I found out that The big rabbit wasn't for real and it didn't matter because the chocolate streams kept on flowing steadily at Easter time, virtually until I left home. And even a little after that if memory serves. He wanted to keep believing but He's not a stupid kid but logic won out.
How does a rabbit get into your house with an ass load of chocolate and crap in the first place? And for that matter (and this is me talking, not The Boy) have you ever seen a rabbit for real? They are a rodent. They shit little round pellets nearly as often as they move. If Bugs was coming into your house to drop off baskets full of goodies for the good boys and girls, you can be damn sure there would be a trail of raisinettes left for Mummy and Daddy to sweep up. OK, but enough about Rabbit crap.
I think got the message a while ago that the best bits of being a kid are the fantasies, the belief in the magic. The Jolly old Elf and Bunnies and Fairies of all sorts but now I`m not so sure. I`m starting to think that it might be finding out the truth. Not because the truth blows away the illusions and innocence of childhood but because it becomes a point where your parents think you've become old enough to deal with the truth. and not spoil the surprise for your younger siblings.
Izzy has asked me on occasion about the truth of matters. "Is Santa real?" or "Is the Easter Bunny real?" and my answer is always the same. "What do you think?" or "What do
you want to believe?"
But time goes on and everyone grows and those beliefs fall away. Or do they? I remember for two or three years running, I went to my Friend Caroline's house to colour Easter eggs with her family. She moved out shortly Easter when we were seventeen. I was disappointed the next Easter because I wouldn't get to colour the eggs.
Of course I'm not saying that I believe in the mystical non- defecating milk chocolate laden rodent now any more than I did then but as we continue to perpetuate them to our children, aren't we really saying it is something we believe in after all? Even if it's temporary? This isn't a discourse on human behaviour just my own musings.
Isobel made it abundantly clear that she does NOT believe in the Tooth Fairy.
"I believe in Santa and the Easter Bunny. But The Tooth Fairy? Come on."
"What about the movie?" I asked.
"Yeah, that's just a guy in wings." she replied. "You guys give me a quarter if teeth come out, right?"
"What do you think?" I asked. She looked at The Boy and he shrugged. I was glad he let her hang.
"It's you and Mummy."
The Tooth fairy was the first to go for The Boy too. Then came the Easter Bunny. Santa is the only one left and his days are numbered. The Boy isn't taking any chances just yet but he has noticed that we haven't got a chimney...How much faith can you put in a fat man in a red suit when you spend most of your free time stealing cars and beating people with a spiked baseball bat? The Easter Bunny now lives on Saints Row...

I am a father and as such it is my right to act like a complete schmuck. To that end, Isobel was in the toy room and as I walked by, I stopped and assumed an old school boxing pose. You know what I mean, like a bare knuckle boxer would pose in a fight poster.

"What the heck is that?" she asked.

"The sweet science." I said.

"A science what now?" she asked.

"Boxing," I said. "Fighting."
"Oh, you want to fight?" she asked.
I stood there, silent re-emphasizing my bare knuckle pose.
"Oh it's ON!" she hollered.
We squared up and she immediately put her hands up.
"You might not want to put your hands in front of your face, Pick."
She came around behind me and walloped me in the posterior.
"Are you sure you want to do that?" I asked.
"Why?" she asked.
"What am I really good at?" I asked her.
"Playing bagpipes." she replied.
"The other thing," I said. "Think where you are punching me."
"Oh jesus," she exclaimed. "I give up!"

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Can I Just Have a Minute...Izzy's salon...

Izzy is getting to that age when she spends an inordinate amount of time on the phone. I might remind you that that age is six. I shudder to think how much time the phone will be glued to the side of her head as her teenage years approach. The phone rang one Saturday and I answered.
Daddy: "Hello?"
Caller: "Hello, could I speak to Isobel?"
Daddy: "Just a minute."
Caller: "Isn't she there?"
Daddy: "She's here, yes. Just not right by the phone. Izzy, you're wanted on the phone."
Isobel: (from upstairs) "Coming."
Daddy: "She's coming just now."
Isobel: "Who is it?"
Daddy: "I don't know."
Isobel: "Ask who it is."
Daddy: "Who's calling?"
Caller: "Pardon?"
Daddy: "Who's calling please?"
Caller: "Umm...me?"

In the normal run of things, my kids don't generally give a flying shit what I am doing. There is no rule that says 'when Daddy is (insert activity here) we must never disturb him.' I may get grumpy about a thing or two when interrupted but by and large there is nothing that I insist on having privacy for. This column thing comes close but even then , I don't really get into the meat of it until after they have gone to bed. So that being said, I am pretty much left to my own devices and can get whatever I want or think I need to do done.
I grabbed my bagpipes and headed out to the garage. It was a warm night for March and I figured I could get a decent practice in. Isobel was outside too. No reason for her to stay in when the weather was so warm and unseasonably dry. I had just tuned up when she walked in covering her ears.
"Yes?" I responded.
"Daddy, can you hold the rope or the swing part while I climb the rope?"
"Can I do what now?" I asked.
"Can you hold the rope? While I climb it? The rope?"
"OK," I said. "But then I am playing, OK? That's what I came out for."
Ropes were held and not at all climbed, swings moved erratically and bottoms were fallen on. Giggles rang out and I headed back to the garage. I picked up my pipes again and settled into some of the tunes I play to warm up...well a half of a bar anyway.
"Yes, my darling child?"
"Daddy, can I play in your car?" she asked.
"Yes, you can. Can I practice my bagpipes now, would that be OK with you?" I asked, the question stinking of sarcasm that she didn't get.
"Ummm...OK, you can practice." she said.
She went off to play in my car and again I struck up. 'These new pipes are one of the best purchases I have ever made.' I thought to myself. 'Easy to tune and when the get there, they lock right...'
Have you ever heard what a well tuned bagpipe sounds like when you don't actually cut off playing, rather you just sort of stop playing? It sounds like a tom cat that has just been swiftly kicked in the testicles and then dropped into a well.
"Daddy, can I play on your car?"
"My brightest flower, you can play on my car until the very cows come home." I said.
"What does that mean?" she asked.
"Yes, you can play on my car." I said trying not to sound annoyed.
Off she went and I blew up yet again. At least I was getting a lot of practice for a good strike in, competition season is just around the corner.
Soon the garage was filled with the haunting sounds of Piobaireachd. For those you keeping score at home, Piobaireachd is the music that was written specifically for the bagpipe. It is ancient and rather like classical music. It is also repetitive and boring to those that don't like it. Mrs. Narrator hates it. I love it, it is one of those things that when you play it, it completely takes...
"Yes Isobel?" I said through teeth that were beginning to grit.
"Daddy, can I play on your car like it was a slide?" she asked.
"Short of driving my car into town to pick up boys, I don't care how or what you play on it in it or around it."
I figured that would be that. What other possible questions could she ask? I covered all automotive play bases, hadn't I. I actually peered through the garage window trying not to be seen lest another question pop into her head. She was happily playing away. Here was my chance. I struck up and felt myself get lost in what I was playing. My mind drifted in and out of the music and my fingers seemed to move unconsciously, without effort. I had made it through the variations and was heading back to the theme. I had nearly made it through the tune.
"Yes, Isobel?" I said, clearly sounding annoyed.
"Daddy I'm going inside, I don't want to hear your bagpipes anymore."

When Izzy was very young and I was out of work, we would have tea parties. Now that she is older, the tea parties have been replaced by make up and hairstyling. I figure there is going to be a time, not too long from now when she is going to do nothing but yell and slam doors...wait she does that now...OK she'll yell and slam doors and really mean it. So if she wants to spend that kinda time with me, I should take it while I can right?
"Daddy, would you like to wear some make up?" she asked.
"What are you on, glue?" I replied lovingly.
"Huh?" she asked.
"Skip it," I said. "Last time it didn't wash off too well and I had it on a little longer than I wanted."
"How about just your hair then?" she asked.
"Sure." I answered.
She stood beside where I was sitting on the couch, pink Barbie brush in hand.
"Daddy, you really need me today. Your hair looks like the Devil."
"Do you mean to say my hair looks like hell?" I asked thinking she was worried about swearing.
"No I mean the devil," she said. "No, seriously. Your hair looks like you have horns."
She soon set about giving me a bad girl beauty make over. I would like to say it was invigorating, refreshing...I will not be plagued with dandruff. At least not until the scabs heal. The Barbie brush must have come with the Barbie Big Inquisition play set complete with spike tyned brushes and junior Torquemada costume...honest to god, a more gruesome bit of hardware I have not experienced and they claim it is a toy It's no wonder the cats flee in terror when they see flashes of pink.
There was a lot of combing and a lot of cooing and fawning.
"We'll just have to move your glasses for a minute." she said.
"I'll hold those," I said. "They're brand new. I would hate to see them get scratched by the Pink Barbie Brush of Confession."
"Oh just a minute!" she said. her voice sounding ominously excited.
She returned with a mirror and held it up triumphantly. I looked the work over, humming and hawing like I would at my own barber's. She took a step back and beamed at me.
"See!" she said. "Now you really look like hell!"