Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Opa's little girl...Izzy's kitchen goes south...

It was our first full day of vacation and Isobel was dying to get into the pool. I think she likes the ocean well enough...from a distance. The pool holds a certain comfort and security. And of course edges you can jump off of...

Isobel: "Daddy, will you watch me at the pool?"
Daddy: "In a minute, Pick. I'm not quite hot enough yet."
Isobel: "Mummy, can you watch me at the pool?"
Mrs. Narrator: "Not quite yet, honey. Maybe Oma or Opa can watch you."
Isobel: "Opah, are you ready to go in the pool?"
Opa: "OK Izzy, I'll go to the pool with you"
Isobel: "OK Opa, I'm just going to jump right in."
Opa: "OK, just let me get in first."
Isobel: "Ready?"
Opa: "Ready."
Isobel:(running like a bat out of hell toward the pool) "CAMERON BALL!"

Ah yes true believers, we have finally made it to the Mexico house. I thought about calling it our second favourite place in the world next to home but home is small and a little cramped and from what I understand since we left, a lot cold and damp. The Mexico house IS our favourite place in the world.
There is sun and sand and surf here. There are delights for both the young and old palettes. Hair braids and cigars, ice cream and jewelry. People carrying boxes of candy on their heads and Tequila. More Tequila than one person has a right to see or drink or see being drunk for that matter... But the kids don't care about any of that foolishness...not much anyway. No, The Boy seems entirely disinterested in anything other than his Ipod and Isobel...well, she is another story altogether.
There are a couple of things that I figured I could always count on in this world. Mexico will always be the place where we have traditionally had the most fun as a family, Mexico will always be the place where I can eat and drink like a fool and not feel bad about it because I get my ass out of bed before anyone gets up and go to the gym. (Yes, me at the gym every day. Are you OK? Do you need to sit down for a bit?) And lastly, that I would always be the guy. The one that Izzy knows she can go to when she wants something. Be it someone to watch her go down the pelican slide til the cows come home or a cuddle buddy at nap time or even a receptacle to catch vomit, I was that guy... But I have been replaced by Mrs. Narrator's father. I have been replaced by Opa.
It used to be "Daddy watch me!" and now it is only "Opa look at me, look at me!" Not that long ago, it was "Mummy, Where is Daddy?" and now she only wonders where Opa is, where Opa has gone and what is Opa doing? What is a father to do? Even The Boy has gotten into it. Today he asked Opa to go swimming and play with him. Yesterday he said he wanted to kick me in the balls.
I used to complain that I couldn't get anything done or enjoy my whole vacation because I had to nap with Isobel or lay with her while she went to sleep. As we speak, she is asleep upstairs with Opa, while he watches the hockey game. I like hockey games to you know...I guess you should be careful what you complain about.
Opa does the magic egg trick at breakfast every morning and though she has seen the trick a million times, it still makes her laugh...
I ask Izzy if she wants to come to the mall with me, so she can go on the playgroud. She says"only if Opa is going." I ask her if she wants to go for a walk to see the tigers. She says "only if Opa is going." I ask her if she wants to go up the street to get some ice cream and then go swimming when we get back. She says "only if Opa is going to take me and then watch me swim." I wish I could be like Opa.
Tomorrow I will tell Izzy the truth that Daddy and Mummy paid for this vacation and that Opa and Oma are a couple of deadbeats who "are only playing with you like that because they owe Mummy and Daddy so much cash." We'll all smile and wave when we drive Oma and Opa back to the nursing home... Who wants to go swimming with Dad?
All kidding aside, when I was growing up two of the most important and influential relationships I had were with my grandmothers. They both in their way, taught me what I needed to get to where I am now. For good or ill. The fact remains that my children treasure their grandparents(who pay their own way and then some thank-you very much). Mrs. Narrator's parents and my mother and I am thankful everyday that we have them and their wisdom... plus Opa is a much stronger swimmer than I am anyway...

So here we are at the Mexico house. There is the ocean but Isobel is not interested in swimming in it. There is the pool and Isobel will swim in it though it is not her new favourite thing to do. There is a mall next door that has a playground which towers high above the floor(for real, this thing is like 18 feet off the ground) but Isobel doesn't want to do this anymore. There are stores that sell trinkets and baubles and every imaginable Mexico type souvenir she could want. But Isobel isn't interested in any of that.
There is ice cream here that costs more to make than they sell it for. But Isobel couldn't be bothered. There are men and women who trudge back and forth along the beach every day, hoping to catch the eye of one of the children of the tourists, so the children will decide that they 'just have to have that dolphin carved from drift would and polished up with shoe polish and lemon pledge.' but not Isobel.
"What's this Daddy?" she asked.
"What's what" I replied.
"What's this crazy thing for?"
I put the lid back on and gave it a push. Her eyes lit up as she watched it go round and round, completely amazed by this modern marvel which, clearly no one had truly, properly appreciated until just this very moment. She put her hand on the top of it and I gave her a look that let her know it was alright or her to work the gadget. She let out a little gasp as it again went round and round to her amazement.
I am overjoyed that Mrs. Narrator, The Boy and I flew almost 2800 hundred miles and spent a foolish amount of money so that Isobel could get to discover the joys of a salad spinner...

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Separation anxiety duet...The Final Countdown...

It is that time of year when skin gets dry and wrinkly. Izzy is no exception.
Izzy: "My hands are crispy."
Daddy: "Crispy?"
Izzy: "That's what Mummy said, they were crispy."
Daddy: "Let me feel. Ooh dry they look like old lady hands. We'll put some cream on when we get home."
Izzy: "Let me see. Now let me see your hand. My hands look all old like yours, Daddy."
Daddy: "What ?!!? I don't have old lady hands...do I?"
Izzy: (Making hands into claws) "Oooh, old lady hands coming to get you. Too late!"

One of my best friends growing up was Brian Schlegel. I have mentioned him here before I am fairly certain. I was a year or two older than him but we were a good team never the less. We were inseparable most of the time. He was the only friend my parents would allow to sleep over at our house and vice versa.
When we went on summer vacation and he was not allowed to go with us, I felt a little out of sorts to say the least. This was a friend who was like the brother I wanted...we were as close as two friends could be.
Isobel is developing such a friendship. Her friend Candace is fast becoming her Brian Schlegel... in a way. I was eight when I went on vacation without Brian Isobel is six now and we are going on vacation...Candace is not coming with us...
Isobel has been hounding us for the better part of a week now to go to Candace's house.
"You know that you get to see her everyday at school, right?" I asked her.
"It's not the same Daddy, you know that. I will just miss her while we are at the Mexico house. Can't she come with us?"
"No Baby, She can't come with us." I said. (Trying oh so very hard not make it sound like 'are you f *%#ing nuts? Can she come with us? Let me just get the extra money from my other pants. Are you kidding me with that shit?')
"I'll tell you what, you can maybe bring her back a nice souvenir from Mexico and tell her all about your trip when you get back. If there's time, I'll try and take you over for a short visit before we go...IF there is time."
"I'm going to write her a song!" Isobel said.
"Or you could write her a nice song." I concurred.
And off she went for a little while. I went back to doing whatever I was doing, thinking the Candace situation had resolved itself. In a manner of speaking it had.
"Can I phone Candace, Daddy?" Isobel asked.
"Sure, I guess." I replied.
She took the phone and disappeared upstairs. Not something that is verboten around here but it was an odd thing for her to do. She normally doesn't care who hears her conversation. After I heard her door close, I decided I would investigate. Not that I thought she was up to anything, I just wanted to know what was pressing so heavily on the six year old mind that she figured she needed privacy for it.
I went upstairs, not trying to be quiet but not thundering up stairs either. It should be noted (pun half intended) that there is a note tape to my daughter`s door that reads as follows; 'Noc on my don or yor not ouloud to com in my room.' Underneath was an illustration that looked like a faceless head on television. I listened outside the door for a moment a could hear her singing.
"Your love is like a drug on meeee, BABY!" she sang. (I know, lovely right?)
Now I was getting a little worried about her musical taste. There's been a lot of Justins and Codys and Selenas but this was pretty damned close to Roxy Music. It's not Gwar, I know but at least were back in an acceptable neighbourhood.
(...Saw her singing along with this song while it was playing on the TV the other day, some snotty pre -teen thing Cory or Cody...Not Brian Ferry...sigh)
I opened the door to compliment her on her singing and I was met with:
"Daddy! Can't you read?"
"I did read it." I said.
I wasn't lying, I just couldn't make a lot of sense of it. I got the my room bit but it was a little sketchy up to that point.
"I just have a hard time reading things when they are on green paper. Why don't you read it to me."
"It says 'Knock on my door or you're not allowed in my room'. So get out and knock." she commanded.
"I'm the Dad, I don't need to knock. ( I thought about this and for a second actually tried to convince myself that as father, I would NEVER need to knock on my daughter's bedroom door...Ho-Ho!) wait yes I do. This is your room and if you want me to knock, then I'll go out and knock."
I did just that.
"Come in," she beamed.
"Whatcha doing?" I asked.
"Candace and I are singing songs together before I have to go to the Mexico house." Isobel said.
"Over the phone?" I asked "You're singing songs over the phone? What kind of songs?" I foolishly asked.
"Songs of remembering." Isobel said.
"Well of course they are." I said. (Which sounded an awfully lot like the song about your love being like a drug on me baby...)
" I'm going to miss Candace while I'm gone so I want to sing songs with her."
"OK," I said. "Kinda hard over the phone though, isn't it?"
"Can you close the door when you leave, please?"
Well if you're gonna be like that...I went out and left her alone. She clearly felt strongly enough about wanting her privacy and strongly enough about wanting to have a moment with her friend that I thought I'd better not spoil it for her. I went about my business, still trying to figure how they were singing on the phone and wondering if Candace's parents were enjoying the serenade of off key loudness as much as I was.
Ten minutes later, she came thundering downstairs without the phone and with a very excited look on her face.
"Aha!" she yelled.
"What?" I asked getting excited right along with her.
"I figured it out!" she said.
"Good, I'm glad!"
"Daddy, can I call Candace on speaker phone?"
"Oh Hell no." I said.

Ah yes friends, the time is drawing near when we will pack up the house and head off to the Mexico house. The excitement is palpable and we have been counting down the days...literally. I was informed a short while ago that there have been songs. The seven days left song and the six days left rap and the five days left metal song and so on. I'm not certain why but I seem to have missed out on these songs. Perhaps Mrs. narrator is only in a singing voice when I'm not around...though I find this highly suspect.
I asked Izzy about the songs when I picked her up from school last week.
"Hey, how come I never get to hear any of the vacation songs?"
"What do you mean?" she asked.
"Mummy said you guys have been singing songs about the days left before we go to the Mexico house."
"Yep." she said.
"Can I hear one?"
"Come on," I pleaded. "Just one song, doesn't even have to be..."
"Six days! Damn six days!" she yelled. "Is that what you want to hear?"
"Sure, I guess." I said.
"It's not all I do, you know." she said.
"What's not all you do?" I asked.
"Swear words." she said.
"I know that's not all you do. If you feel like I want you to swear and it makes you uncomfortable, you can tell me." I said.
"OK." she said quietly.
We were silent for what seemed like a long time but probably wasn't. She broke the silence but she mumbled something so quietly, I honestly had no idea what she said.
"Pardon?" I asked.
"I said, my damn throat is sore from yelling my lungs out on that vacation song."

The Next two posts will be from the sunny beaches and poolside splendour of the Mexico house OLE!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

I Hate my kids...Izzy Goes for the Record...

I had a bottle of honey, the kind that looks like a bear. Isobel had asked about it so when it was empty, I cleaned it out and gave offered it to her.

Isobel: "Gee thanks, just what I always wanted."
Daddy: "You asked about it a while ago, you asked if you could have it when it was empty."
Isobel: "Oh, OK. Thank-you."
Daddy: "You're welcome."
Isobel: "Wait Daddy, what the hell would I do with this?"
Daddy: I don't know, make a bong out of it." (damn)
Isobel :"What? Make what?
Daddy: "Nothing, never mind. Give it to me if you don't want it and I'll throw it away."
Isobel: "What's a bong, Daddy?"
Daddy: Something that people use sometimes when they...ask your uncle Doug the next time you see him."
Isobel: "Wait, I know.(picking up Bear and slamming it on table) BONG...BONG...BONG...yeah, not fun. Throw it away."

I hate my kids...Let me say that again, I hate my kids...before this is over, you will likely hate your kids. Maybe even mine...
I didn't have much of a plan when I was younger. No clear direction or vision of what I would do with my life. I wandered through a series of pointless, meaningless jobs until I got a job in a meat plant. Then I really gave up. But as if by some miracle, I discovered I had a knack for music. I could play a little and fake what I couldn't figure out. I had discovered what I was supposed to do. I was a musician and I was to bring pleasure and joy to the masses with my instrument...I hate my kids.
I joined a band and I got better. So much better that I got asked to join a real band. A band from The States. A band that toured the world (literally) and had a recording contract and everything. I didn't just jump, I leaped at the chance...I hate my kids.
And it was everything you have heard it is. it is sex and drugs and booze and all night parties that never end and the band is always at the centre of the whirlwind. Always. And that little thing that gnaws away at you, that you can't quite put a finger on, gets drowned out by the din of raucous parties and deafening sound checks...I hate my kids.
And then you start to generate a little buzz in the music world. And more and more people come to see you and people start buying you drinks because they want to get close to you and booze is the great equalizer. And the women get more interested in you and more people start to hang around you because the women are more interested in you and soon people want to work for you just to be part of this non-stop all night party that is you...I hate my kids.
And then the music business people start to crawl out of the wood work because they can smell money to be made. And they want you to sign with them so they will do anything to win you over. If you want to see someone drink battery acid and try to fart lightning, they'll find someone to do it. Just to make you happy...I hate my kids.
Then you might find yourself with someone, someone who you couldn't live without and then realize you have been gone four six months and you don't care whether you spend time with them or not. What's one more relationship shot to hell when there's another one just around the corner?...I hate my kids.
Then maybe the gnawing thing gets so loud that you can't ignore it anymore. No matter what you do, all the booze and drugs and sex and lightning shitting circus midgets,(makes you think about what we did on the road, right?) will not make it go away. And you realize that the thing you can't quite put your finger on, the thing that is gnawing away at you is you. You, sitting alone in a hotel room in Lawrence Kansas on a Wednesday night. Wondering what the hell is going wrong and why can't it be right for just a little while?...I hate my kids.
What is all then point of this, Sid?
I reconnected with an old friend over the weekend and when she asked me what I had been up to for the last twenty years, I actually had to think about it. Not because of old age and memory loss (not entirely anyway) but because I actually struggled to think of memories that didn't involve the kids. I actually said that I couldn't picture my life without the children...and I can't. I don't mean it in a warm squishy way, I mean it that I struggled to come up with something that didn't involve them. They're like a virus that has infected my brain.
I actually came home after the encounter with my friend and thought of my past, my rockstar life and what it meant. I was happy...wasn't I? I was fulfilled...had purpose. I look back on it now without a shred of regret but was I happy, really happy or fulfilled? Did I honestly have a purpose? No.
I was more than content not to breed. Not to be a parent but then it happened and after my head stopped spinning and the nausea died away, I figured I could do it and so here we are. Do I have regrets? Sure, who doesn't? By a show of hands, how many parents out there( Real parents, mind. Not dead beat dads or crack head baby Mommas or other people who generally don't give a flying shit what happens to their offspring) regret having children and have even thought 'life would have been so much better easier/more fun/less hassle if you had never been born?...Not one of you.
I was thrust into parenthood in fairly short order, as most of us are and shortly after I received a gift that I didn't expect and thought a already had...both kids gave it to me and it's the one thing everybody wants...a sense of purpose. I was never a musician or an entertainer...not really. Through all of that, all the roles I fought so hard to hide behind, I was what I am...I'm a Dad...I hate my kids

Mrs. Narrator and I have been on an exercise bent lately. Dumbbells and exercise programs are strewn about the house and a few things that were left to gather dust and cobwebs, have been brought up out of the isolation of the basement. Including the exercise ball. Isobel is delighted. From the time she was very young, she has been fascinated with the giant blue rubber ball. Finally she is big enough to do something with it...like bounce it...endlessly...anywhere in the house.
It is a test of one's patience not to reach out and throttle her when she bounces the ball...I remember a similar ball of my own. It was one of the giant purple numbers with the handle on the top of it. You would sit on it and bounce to your heart's content. And it drove my mother mad. I thought she might beat me to death with it.
"If you don't give that thing a rest, I'll beat you to death with it." she would say. You can see why I was worried.
I was upstairs practicing the other night when Izzy came upstairs. For those of you that don't know, something intrinsic to success as a musician ( particularly bagpipes) is practicing with a metronome. It is impossible to practice to the beat of a metronome when a giant blue exercise ball is bouncing at a completely different beat.
(Bounce...bounce...bounce..) "Izzy, you gotta stop. I'm trying to practice."
(Bounce...bounce...bounce...) "OK Daddy, sorry."
(Bounce...bounce...bounce...) "Izzy, you're not stopping."
(Bounce...bounce...bounce...) "Yes I am."
(Bounce...bounce...bounce...) "Izzy, you're still doing it. Stop!"
(Bounce...bounce...bounce...) "But Daddy, more bounces and I get the record."
(Bounce...bounce...bounce...) "What record?"
(Bounce...bounce...) "Damn it...Never mind now."
She threw the ball and walked away dejected. But at the beginning of writing this week, I heard her bouncing the ball again and throwing it off the bedroom door. Somebody call Guinness or the nut house. Either way somebody is going places...

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Attacking the Children's Flank...Isobel shows a mature side(the sleepover ep 2)...

I picked her up from school and she walked around the back of the car without looking.
Daddy: "Isobel, you need to walk around the front of the car, not the back. Cars can't see you when you walk out from between two cars."
Isobel: "Why can't the cars see me, am I invisible now?"
Daddy: "Because you're short, the people driving aren't looking where you are. They are looking ahead of them. They won't see you and they could hit you."
Isobel: "So? What would happen?"
Daddy: "If you got hit by a car? What would happen if you got hit by a car?"
Isobel: "Yeah."
Daddy: "If you got hit by a car, you be hurt very badly. Or worse."
Isobel: "Worse?"
Daddy: "You could be killed and then you would go down to the devil. MUHAHAH!"
Isobel:" No."
Daddy: "No? What would happen then?"( figuring on some less sinister answer)
Isobel: "If I got dead, they would bury me."

Being a parent is a difficult job, likely the most difficult thing most of us will ever do. Being a step parent is just as difficult, sometimes more so. Not only do you have to contend with the normal parent woes- being too strict or not being strict enough, you also have to take into consideration your relationship with the child. Does he/she like me? Will he/she care a rats ass about anything that actually comes out of my mouth that doesn't involve spending gobs of cash? Your biological children will also tend to not give a rat's ass about you if you are not spending gobs of cash but the concern of them liking you or not is irrelevant. They have to listen to you regardless.
The other...obstacle for lack of a better term, is the biological parent of the child. Usually the mother. Mother bear syndrome is a real thing and the human female can be every bit as lethal as a mother bear when she feels her child is threatened...or wronged...or punished unfairly...believe it.
I have found rightly or wrongly, the step children will take advantage of this fact. I know it first hand, I am a step child. I would go out of my way to be obstinate and rude and disrespectful, knowing full well I would get away with it. It was like having diplomatic immunity.
Now emotions and true feelings aside, The Boy and I have had and will continue to have our differences. Parent to leaping into teenage-hood child. I love him and I know he loves me but that is not my point. My point is many times has he thrown down a challenge to me as an authority figure only to hide behind the embassy walls of his Mother's protection.
He will do or say something knowing full well that nine out of ten times, his Mother is going to take his side and he will go unpunished. And if Mrs. Narrator and I are squabbling or generally in a foul frame of mine with regards to each other, I will keep my mouth shut in matters of discipline and again there will be little or no consequence to his action. I am making it sound as though she will only side with The Boy. If she is upset with me, she will side with Izzy just as quickly and earnestly and I am once again on the bus to Daddy who?-ville. I'm sure many Fathers will agree with me.
Now, there is a time in the life of all adults when all the stars align and wills diminish and moods soften. Those times when petty crap melts away and you're glad of each other's company. Perhaps not giddy like when a marriage was new but a feeling of invigoration that runs through the pair of you. A time when a bond will be strengthened and the iron grip the children have over the home will be broken into a thousand pieces.
Wait, what did he say? Yes, I said it. And you parents know exactly what I mean. That time when the parents decide "You know what, my partner isn't a complete dolt and so today I will side with them instead of the children."
It is the most wonderful time when the hearts of children( step and biological alike) sink and they cry out "Oh shit, Mom actually agrees with Dad. Now what are we going to do?"
The other day, Isobel was preforming gymnastics in the living room complete with loud thumps and giggles.
"Izzy," I said. "No more. You're shaking the whole house."
As expected, my words fell on deaf ears and she continued her tumbling and thumping and laughing.
"Izzy," I said more forcefully (though not quite through gritted teeth.) "ENOUGH."
She looked to Mrs. Narrator, fully expecting her to berate me for shouting or to say that 'She's just playing' as she has many times before.
"You heard your Father, knock it off." was instead her reply.
Izzy stood there as though someone had put a turd in her Hello Kitty Purse. She must not have believed what she heard or collapsed out of shock because she hit the floor again with a loud thud.
"Izzy, stop it." Mrs. Narrator said forcefully.
I must have had an equally shocked look on my face.
"What?" she asked.
The biggest issue of behaviour and punishment being meted out between The Boy and I are the video game systems. Specifically the cessation of play and the putting away of said video games. Like any lover of video games, he wants to continue to play them, long past bed time. Just over the next hill or just to the next check point. I have used the same excuse myself. But when it's time to put it away, it is time. When he gets frustrated with the game however, logic goes out the window and so does the listening. In the normal course of things, he will walk upstairs without cleaning anything up and I will tell him that he has lost it for an indeterminate amount of time only to be contradicted by Momma Bear...in the normal run of things...
He got a new game for Christmas and of course wants to play it endlessly. He couldn't play anymore and he got frustrated and went upstairs without putting it away. I informed him that he would not be playing the following evening ( not losing my temper). I put the video games away and went back to doing what I was doing on the computer and listening to music with the headphones on. In a couple of minutes I felt a tap on my shoulder. It was The Boy and he was apologizing. Not as though he had been put up to it but sincerely sorry for walking away from something he was asked to do... because I asked him to do it.
I walked upstairs, fully expecting to be given that look that I (and most fathers) have seen a thousand times. That look that says I made him apologize but that's all you're getting. That's all the punishment that is going to happen in this house tonight. But I didn't get that look. Instead she started talking about the renovations she wanted to do at the top of the stairs.
Ahh, their is a new sheriff in town and a new deputy!. Rooms will be cleaned and homework will be done. Demands from the parents will be carried out quickly and quietly and with no back talk...OK maybe I am dreaming a little on that one...I don't even mind being the deputy...if it means more peace and quiet around here and children that occasionally listen to their father and do as they're told, you can smack my ass and call me Festus...

Izzy had her first sleep over here this past weekend. It was meant to be with two of her friends in lieu of a birthday party. Sadly, only one of her friends could make it so it was more of a play date than a slumber party.
I'd like to say that wackiness ensued the whole time the two of them were together...but it just didn't. They were quite sedate. Oh sure, there was giggling and putting make up on and all of the things that one would expect from two little girls but that was really it. This is not the friend that Izzy has had over on several occasion but another friend from school who's house she has been to a couple of times but has never been to ours. (does that make sense?)
The thing I guess I noticed most, was the difference in the two of Izzy's friends. One is like Izzy, a leader and wants to be so at every opportunity. Just as Izzy does. This tends to create friction and as we all know friction equals unpleasant noise. This girl would seem to me to be more of a follower and therefore a perfect companion for Izzy. She has no qualms letting Izzy be the boss and Izzy has no problems being the boss...
They ate their supper and played for a while and then it was off to bed. And with a minimal amount of giggling. The next morning they got up and giggled a little more and their play threatened to get too loud for the two still sleeping people upstairs but they calmed down almost immediately. Izzy and her other friend would have woken the entire house before finally calming down. Finally the time came for her friend to go home and Isobel remained sitting on the couch.
"Don't you want to Come and say goodbye to your friend?" I asked.
"Good-bye." said Izzy but she remained seated on the couch.
With her friend out the door, Izzy breathed a sigh of relief and let out a loud raucous fart.
"I didn't think she would ever go home." she said.
I stood staring at her in amazement. "How long have you been holding that in?" I asked.
"A long time," she said. "since this morning, I think."
"You're six years old," I said. "six year old girls fart, you know."
"I know." said Isobel.
"Well then," I began. "What' the problem?"
"She doesn't know that, I don't think she's six yet."
They grow up so fast...

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Enough is Enough...The Birthday Girl...

We were out shopping and taking our place in line to pay for our stuff. Isobel motioned toward a box of mints that she wanted me to buy.
Isobel: "Can I get these mints?"
Daddy: "What? What mints? (Looking at box of mints) No honey, those mints are like four bucks. Too much for mints."
Isobel: "But they are soooo good."
Daddy: "You say that every time and I fall for it every time. The back seat of my car is full of tins of mints that were just sooo good that you had to have them. The tins are flashy but the mints are usually shit mints."
We finished paying and left the store. (It should be noted at this point that The Boy was looking for a particular item that was on back order.)
The Boy: "Why didn't they have any?"
Daddy: "They are sold out, we can call tomorrow. In the afternoon, a new shipment is supposed to come in."
Isobel: "Daddy, don't say that."
Daddy: ""Say what?"
Isobel: "S-H- Double mints. It's a bad word."
Daddy: "...What?"
Isobel: "You said it in the store, you said I couldn't have the box of mints because they were shit mints."

I love Christmas. I love the pageantry and tradition and the over eating and over drinking and everything else that goes hand in hand with the festive season. I also loved playing in a rock and roll band and drinking and smoking and carousing and making a general drunken, druggy pain in the ass of myself at least six nights a week.
But as much as I hate to hear the words echo in my ears, let alone actually say them, I'm not a kid anymore. I don't want the same things I wanted then. I don't think I am necessarily any more responsible than I ever was just more tired. it's not the years, it's the mileage...that and notes from my liver saying knock it off.
But what, you ask, does my days a s a cavalier rock and roller have to do with the Holiday season? Simple...somewhere along the line I went from a wide eye kid, living the Christmas spirit and making all the appropriate messes to a goggle eyed adult wondering 'who in the shit is going to clean all this up?'
There has been a weird kind of paradigm shift around this place. In the normal run of things, The Father will take up his customary place on the loving seat in the toy room and not give a tinker's cuss about the the Chrimbo tree and its comings and (more to the point) goings. Mrs. Narrator will then take up her customary festive position of hollering and all and sundry about the horrid conditions of the house due to the dessicated fire hazard of a tree and how the Father should get up off his ass and come help because she is doing all this shit on her own...and how she doesn't even like god-damned Christmas anyway!
This year, round about December the thirtieth, I started to have these odd anxious feelings that I could not identify. I couldn't quite put my finger on what was making me antsy in my own house. And then it came to me. We had been out at Mrs. Narrator's sister's house for supper and a very heated game of poker. As soon as I walked in the house, the antsy-ness hit me. As I walked to the living room. The feeling was overwhelming.
Christmas had thrown up in the living room and the children had tried to hide the festive vomit with their old toys. There were literally toys everywhere. Toys we bought, toys Santa brought, toys they had got as birthday presents two years ago. Video games, video game systems, video game boxes. Purses (coloured and uncoloured) Barbie computer printer hair (don't ask) two scooters and boxes, many, many boxes. There may have been a partridge at one point but I'm certain it would have suffocated underneath all of the spent gaiety and frivolity.
By January the second, I had had enough. I didn't lose my mind or my temper, I just said (OK a little pissy) that I couldn't take it anymore and today we were cleaning up starting then...right then The funny thing ( and more than a little ironic) is Mrs. Narrator wasn't the usual geeked out need to get this shit cleaned up maniac- I was. Sure she wanted it done but she didn't seem to NEED to see it cleaned up as desperately as I seemed to. Chrimbo had run its course and I was done with the whole glittery hoarders episode it had become...Toys first and then the tree. A one day restoration of the status quo.
The kids, it would seem, had also had their fill of it. Asking my children to clean up their Christmas loot anytime before the middle of February, would normally be met with derision on total noncompliance...I didn't get so much as an argument. Not even an ' What!!?!?! ' Izzy even cleaned her bedroom.
They say Christmas is becoming too commercial and I can't disagree. But it's not the commerciality of it all that bothers me, I like buying things for people that I think will make them happy. I think it's that we are bombarded by images of it for nearly two months. By the end of the Holiday season, we're nearly begging to go back to work just to get away from all the Christmas crap...
Incidentally, the bastard tree is still up in the living room but it's days are numbered...and it knows it...

Today is my daughter's birthday. My little girl is six...six years old and in my mind, it was yesterday that I could hold her in one hand. It was a day later that she was following me around the house asking "Where's Mimi goes?" The day after that she was watching Kiss and Ronny James Dio videos with me thrashing wildly around the room. My pal, my shadow, my offspring.
And what did my progeny do for her birthday? Some shopping with Mummy which produced necklaces and hairbands and various other bangles and shining finery...Wait, what? No black lipstick? No rock t shirts or long sleeved blouses like Dio himself wore?
At some point, somebody snuck into our house and traded my Isobel for a proper little girl. One who likes shiny things and brightly coloured make up. My god, she came home with a beret. A leopard skin one, mind but a BERET! What's next? Designer handbags and a dog you can carry in a purse?
Come to think of it, I have been noticing a change in her...she spends less time with me and more time on the phone with her friends. Talking nonsense and giggling. "Rock chicks don't giggle, ever." I told her.
"I don't want to be a rocker anymore." she said. "I want to do gymnastics and wear a pink one piece out fit."
Can you hear that sound? That is my crest falling. Her grandmother called and asked what she wanted for her birthday. Here was a glimmer of hope for redemption. "A bass," I thought. "Say you want a god damned bass guitar. Oma loves you, you know she'll buy it."
"Tell Oma I want a girl's work out set." she said.
I felt like I has been kicked in the Stones. Or Sabbath or any of the other bands we would listen to together. I was starting to wonder if there was anything common between us anymore, anything that would keep us together, Father and Daughter...
I was putting her to bed which inevitably led to tickling and laughter and then her having enough of being tickled.
"Enough," she said. Which led to more tickling, naturally.
"Daddy, enough." she said again. More tickling. More laughing.
She stood up on the bed, and pointed one finger at me. She clenched everything from head to toe and hissed at me through tightly clenched teeth. "Enough."
As many of us have discovered clenching one's whole body tight tends to get things moving. A tiny pressurized squee escaped her clenched bottom, followed by a roar of laughter that escaped her wide opened mouth.
My progeny...