Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Serenity NOW...Spring Has Sprung...

      She was lying in bed...trying to avoid bed time...
      Isobel:" "Daddy my nose hurts."
      Daddy: "Go to sleep, Izzy."
      Isobel: "No really, my nose hurts. I hit it on the bathroom stall door."
      Daddy: "Wait, what? How did you hit your nose on the stall door?"
      Isobel: "I was turning around and when I turned back I wasn't looking and I hit my nose across the door."
      Daddy: "I guess that'll teach you to keep your nose out of other people's business."
      Isobel: "Wait, what? Daddy, that doesn't even make sense when you are trying to do something. You are  smelling someone else's business."
      Daddy: "Wait, what?"
      Isobel: "And that's just gross."

      I have been in the parenting game precisely seven years. Coincidentally that is the same amount of bad luck one gets from breaking a mirror...So what I am seeing now is a side of my daughter that I frankly, don't much care for. The attitude that comes from this kid is staggering and I guess my question -is this kind of thing normal? Is it a little girl thing? Is it a thing for her age? Am I wrong to want to chain her to a pipe in the basement until it all goes away?
      It really wasn't that long ago when I was the world to my little girl. I still am but lately I am a source of disappointment and contempt for her. It's not an occasional thing either, it is all the time.
     "I am full." she'll say.
     "How can you be full, you've had no snacks and you ate two bites of your food?"
     "I don't like it."
     "I don't care, this isn't a restaurant." I have waited years to fling this chestnut at my child...it is the birthright of all parents to state the painfully obvious to their children. My problem is the inner child that is so firmly rooted beside the writing desk in my mind always answers for Izzy; 'You're damn right this isn't a restaurant, if it was, I wouldn't have ordered this shit.'
      I suppose she comes by it honestly. Mules will run away from her mother after she's made her mind up about something and I am about as dark and moody as it gets. I don't shout for long but I stew forever. I can remember my mother making me sit at the table until all my peas were gone. In childhood terms, this meant I had to sit at the table until the dog or I or both of us vomited whole peas. The whole while, grumbling under my breath that she'd get hers...somehow. Either way, I figured I didn't really have to do as she told me. That dog had a cast iron constitution but between me and my sister having to sit at the table, it had developed a pathological fear of peas.
      It isn't always about food, though that is a gigantic source of friction. Her inability to pick up after herself is also one of the bones of contention that litter this house like the Paris catacombs. My ex-wife used to jokingly call me 'Pig-Pen' and say a little cloud of dust followed me wherever I went. She probably wasn't too far off the mark and again...my progeny has only just dropped from the tree. She can take the living room from neat and tidy to ground zero in about three seconds. She's a passionate and inventive player. Didn't they call it the Passion when Jesus died?
     I think the worst is the out and out defiance. She did something...probably a great many things over the course of the day that culminated in pin point accuracy of the final act of ghastly indignation-sitting on the counter and I had just had enough.
       "Go to your room, now!"
     She did not. She went to the living room, sat down and began watching T.V.
      "I thought I said go to your room?" I asked incredulously.
      "I don't want to." she said.
   I suddenly understood why we got hit with wooden spoons, spatulas, Hot Wheels tracks, hands, the cat, really anything within arms reach.
      I don't want to...if I had told either of my parent I didn't want to do something I was told to do, I would still be walking with a limp.
      But what could I do...I can't hit her, even writing it seems stupid and ignorant. We are a lot of things around this place but ignorant and violent isn't one of them. No, I'm afraid the answer is simple and staring me right in the face and also scaring the living shit out of me. The only real answer is to hold on and weather the storm...keep steering her in the right direction and hope she doesn't insist on making too many really bad decisions like I did...just the same, I better be ready when she does.

     It has been a long cold winter and it seems spring has finally arrived. As far as Isobel is concerned it has.
        "Can I go outside in just a hoodie?" she asked.
       "I guess," I said. "Will you be warm enough? It's not that warm out."
      "I'll be OK." she said.
      I didn't pay much attention to it. I looked out the window sometime later and she was in her usual summer position-sitting on the hood of my car barking at the minions wearing just a t-shirt.
      I called her to the door.
      "It is not warm enough for just a t-shirt. You need to wear more than that.Put your sweater on and do it up." I said using the Father voice.
      "Daddy," she began.
      "No," I said. "Look at your arms, they are beet red."
      "What does that mean?" she asked.
      "It means you are getting to cold, the blood is rushing around your body trying to keep you warm. If you don't put on something warm
 all the blood will move from your skin and start surrounding your insides, trying to keep them warm. Then your skin will go blue."
      "Blue?" she asked.
      "Yes, blue." I said. "And then in a little while from that, you would die from hypothermia."
      Gigantically dramatic but she really did need a sweater."
      "Would I come back as a zombie?"
      "Oh forget it, put a damn sweater on, will ya."

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

I have a Headache...Izzy's Fire Safety...

      She was in the bathroom for a long time, a very long time. She emerged slowly with a frightful look on her face.
      Isobel: "Ugh..."
      Daddy: "What's up, Pick?"
      Isobel: "Do not go in there."
      Daddy: "That bad, huh?"
      Isobel: "It's awful in there."
      Daddy: "Did you turn on the fan?"
      Isobel : "Probably."
      Daddy: "You gotta turn on the fan if it's that bad."
      Isobel: "I can't go back in there."
      Daddy: "Why not?"
      Isobel: "Sometimes I feel like I am going to vomit when I smell my own poop."

      I remember I used to baby sit for my friend when her son was literally a baby. Some how, it had fallen on me to take this helpless creature to the doctor for his second set of shots. I was an adult ( well for the most part) and I had looked after this kid for quite some time without incident. I had also had plenty of injections of my own. How hard could it be?
     "Are you the father?" the receptionist asked me.
     "Naw, I'm just the baby sitter." I said. "So what is this appointment for, she just told me to bring him here."
      I should interject here that my friend neglected to tell me that I would be taking her son to get his second set of inoculations.  I figured it was something more akin to a check up or a swab down the gullet.
      "Oh," said the nurse. "you're in for a treat then."
       "What do you mean?" I asked.
      She let out a bit of a giggle as she closed the door of the room and left me in there with my charge.
The doctor came in shortly after and asked that I undo the legs of the baby's fuzzy yellow sleepers. He got out the first needle, uncapped it and stuck it in the baby's leg. The room went deathly quiet and the baby looked at me with a look that said; 'I haven't been around for a great deal of time but I think I can tell when something is out of place and this is one of those times.'
      Within a microsecond, the silence was massacred by an ear splitting scream. The kind of scream you might get when...you stick a pointed metal tube into the leg of a baby. He had a look on his face now that was more like; 'You swine! Why would you do this to me? What have I ever done to you to deserve this?' Still he pulled himself closer to me I still provided some source of security, sketchy thought it was.So when Mrs. Narrator told me I was taking Izzy to the pediatrician, my mind instantly flashed back to that day with the baby and I could feel a cold sweat starting to run down my back.
      Isobel had been having headaches on and off for a little while but there was a two week stretch where it seemed as though she was getting one every day. We tried to reason all the possible causes, from playing video games on the iphone with her head firmly under the blankets, to migraines (Mrs. Narrator and family) to needing glasses. (yours truly from about the age of ten) Nothing made sense and it all made sense. She had gotten her eyes checked at the beginning of the year at school and all was OK and we got her to stay out from under the blankets while she was on the iphone but just the same, we made an appointment.
     She was poked and prodded with the usual instruments and guesses were made but no definitive answers were pronounced and so off to the pediatrician we went.  I think we were both a little nervous...likely me more than she but we sucked it up and soldiered on. One great thing about going to a pediatrician is the amazing turn over time. I counted four people ahead of us and we were being asked back to the exam rooms with five minutes of arriving. She was weighed and measured and laid out on the exam paper before we knew it.
      "What's this paper for?" she asked about the sanitary paper they put over the exam table before you lay down on it.
      "It's wax paper, it's what they wrap you up in before you go off to the butcher shop."
      "Daddy...what's it really for REALLY?"
      "Really it's to keep the table clean, like in case you crap your pants."
      "Eww, really?"
      "Yeah, probably. You better watch it, or the doctor is going to hit you with that hammer."
      "What?" she asked a little startled. "No she won't."
      "Actually, she probably will. It's not for bad kids, it's to test your reflexes. You watch, she'll probably do it. She'll hit your knees and your legs will kick out."
      "Whoah!" said Izzy.
      The doctor came in and asked Izzy a lot of questions, which she answered with a candor that I was surprised to here come out of her.
      "OK young lady, " the doctor said. "Hop back up on the table." She poked and prodded with the standard instruments and Izzy giggled a little when the doctor poked her belly.
      "Can I get you to sit up now?" the doctor asked as she reached over for the hammer.
      "What is that for?" Izzy asked.
      "It's to hit your knees." said the doctor, not missing a beat. Izzy beamed.
      Knees were knocked and legs kicked out and a little girl was happy knowing she was tough enough to get hit in the knees with a hammer and could still walk away.
      And in the end it was decided that Isobel needed more water in her diet and that it wouldn't hurt to get a second eye exam. We had to book a second appointment and while we were standing at the desk, Izzy noticed a box of disposable masks.(for people with respiratory infections etc) "Look, Daddy." she said. I grabbed one and told her she could take it with her. She looked like I gave her money.  She put it on as we were walking to the car.
    "I'm going to wear this when we walk in the door. I'm going to tell mummy I am a very sickly asian."
      "Oh yeah?" I asked.
      "Yeah," she replied. I'm going to scare the crap out of her."

      Isobel has taken an interest in helping with meal preparation around here. However, she hasn't quite mastered the art of a safe kitchen. Mrs. Narrator gave her hell fro being too near a hot stove and touching pans that had just come out of the oven. Nobody was burnt...actually, I tell a lie. Mrs. Narrator burnt her finger but this is a whole other issue. Ask me sometime about how she burnt her arm the night before our wedding. Anyway, Izzy was concerned enough with the admonishment she experienced that she wrote a note to help others with safety around the open flame of a gas stove. It reads;
1. Fiers are vary
poris becus pepole cud
pie from a flam.
   I'm sensing Smokey the Bear will be saying this to kids everywhere in the very near future.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

What's With You...It's Not What you say, it's How You Say It

      I was sitting watching T.V when she came up an made an announcement.

      Isobel: "Daddy, you have the voice of toast."
      Daddy: "Umm...what?"
      Isobel: "You have the voice of toast!"
      Daddy: "Can't even begin to guess what that means but OK."
      Isobel: "It MEANS that you have the voice of toast. Now say something in toast for the people."
      Daddy: "Oh...OK. (fingers covering mouth) Hello Isobel."
      Isobel :"I didn't get that, can you say that again?"
      Daddy: "Um...Hello Isobel?"
      Isobel: "Daddy!"
      Daddy: "What?"
      Isobel: "Not like that."
     Daddy: "Not like what?"
     Isobel : "Not Yiddish toast."

           Well the nest is full again, everyone has come home from the bucolic splendour of the Mexico house. The noise level has risen to fever pitch and the shouts of 'I don't want to go.' and 'I hate snow' and 'This sucks' have all faded away. The kids were far less vocal about being home but just the same it is grand to have us all back under one roof again.
     There is however, a nasty little something that came home. An unwanted and wholly unwarranted little something about four foot tall with an attitude about nine foot wide. I don't know how it happened, I was only there for a week and I guess a lot can happen in a week's absence but somebody replaced my little girl with a seething cauldron of back talk and defiance.
      At first I thought it was pretty funny...particularly because Mrs. Narrator seemed to be suffering the brunt of it. It was a lot of talking back and whining...enough whine to require cheese as a delightful accent or is that detrimental accident? Anyway, there it was, really kind of mean spirited stuff. It wasn't just laughing carelessly at being asked to do something, no it was more Izzy getting up in Mrs. Narrator's grill and laughing AT her. Really, it was quite funny...because it wasn't happening to me. Oh there was more of Isobel climbing into bed with us and nobody sleeping (except Isobel of course) but it wasn't the same thing. her attitude seemed to take on a mean streak. She was being rude because she wanted to be rude.
     A day or two later she drifted from baby talk to Pazuzu's (That's the demon from the Exorcist, for those of you keeping score at home) mother in law and back again. I think maybe she was unsure what approach to take with me. I hate baby talk...even from babies and I won't put up with the other for long. But it came none the less. I don't remember a great deal of what she said but I remember her laughing at me while she said it and it wasn't playful, joyous laughter of a happy child. No this was the mean spirited laughter of the costume department of Star Trek, just after they hand you a red jersey. It was ugly laughter and it was meant to be.
      "How long, exactly, do you think I am going to listen to that?" I asked her.
      "Hahaha, I don't care." she replied.
      "Really, wanna play the laughing game?"
       "What's that?" she asked.
       "It's where I tell you to knock this crap off and go to your room and not come out until I tell you."
       "That doesn't sound fun."she said.
       "It'll be great fun for your mother and me." I replied.
      "Are you serious?" she asked.
    The tone of her voice changed in that small instant when she realized I likely was serious.
      "Try me and find out," I said.
       She continued to act in this snotty and not at all my daughter kind of way for a while but she seemed to keep it more in the living room with her mother. I don't know why the kids pull this kind of stuff more with their mother than with me. Maybe it is my commanding presence and ultra-authoritative voice...maybe I just have one of those faces but they don't do it to me for very long.
      It is March break around here and maybe only a week back at school before another full week off is just not enough time to really get your seven year old shit together and settle in for appropriate behaviour. (whatever the hell that is) I'm just glad she's home, warts and all. It's nice to hear the stomping of little flat feet through the house again...even if they are running away from a shouting parent.

     I am starting to notice a trend with The Boy and I think it is indicative of his impending teenage-hood. It doesn't matter what you ask of him, his response is virtually always the same. It's as though you have asked him to perform the most vile task you could possibly think of.
      "It's time to get off the computer," you can say to him.
      "ALRIGHT." he will reply in that tone that says 'jesus Sid, how many times are you going to ask me?' (Just the once so far)
      "Take you dishes to the kitchen."
      "I can't do everything at the same time!" he says. (Is it the multiple dishes you're having issues with or are you losing your ability to carry with both hands?) 
     You can even see it in his face, when you ask him to do...well anything, it's as if you are holding a small cat turd just under his nose and asking him to have a good old lick of before he gets off the computer.
      I'd like to say for the record, that I never did this kind of thing when I was his age or any other age for that matter. I'd like to say that but I suspect that after the words left my fingers, my Mother  would have discovered the method for sending a cuff up the back of the head via email.
      No, I suspect these are the shades of things to come...The Boy is growing up and that's pretty god damned scary...I may need to start a blog of his own. "Vitriol from the Spotty Pale Chin"