Friday, May 13, 2016

Hi Guys

No time to craft a balanced post with a coherent message, so I’m just going with the flow today.  Brain diarrhea.  Go...


Does the smell of yogurt ever make you want to gag?  Like you catch a scent of it and you dry heave for a second?  And yet it still tastes great.  But - that smell.  It’s like low tide, kinda.  Or entering a men’s bathroom in the old Boston Garden.  With the troth.  Or a kiddie cup filled with milk left behind in a hot minivan with the windows up.  Or the smell of bread baking in a Subway restaurant. What?  No?  Oh okay, me neither…


You know how in Lord of the Rings whomever held the ring got kind of cracked out and addicted to keeping it?  It is literally the only analogy I can think of to describe how I feel when I see a “Box Top” on food packaging.  Once I see that beautiful pink rectangle/pencil insignia, I immediately stop what I’m doing, locate the scissors, and cut it out in the hope that Mrs. Resca’s first grade class has a chance at winning an extra recess this year.  I think any sequel to "Fight Club" should have an opening scene with a support group for people who can’t restrain themselves from cutting Box Tops.  This is Jack’s metacarpal...


Best parts of my dinner out solo with the kids earlier tonight:


  1. Greta’s genuinely stoked reaction when she saw her friend eating with her family at the same restaurant - my selection of the establishment suddenly became validated;
  2. Gus eating a piece of pasta off of the floor from the same restaurant;
  3. Tilly bringing her purse that contained only a rectangular lego that she said was a cell phone covered in paper decorated by Greta - a cell phone cover, obvi;
  4. Tilly eating a piece of gum that fell from Greta’s bubble gum ice cream off of the floor from Daddy’s Dairy; and
  5. Gus telling the girls at Daddy’s Dairy “I love you” while blowing kisses as we left the joint...


I admit my cell phone voice volume is slightly above average compared to the typical phone talker.  There are a few explanations.  Sometimes I’m just very excited by the identity of my caller.  I like hearing from my buddies.  It makes me happy.  Part of this phenomenon is also due to my diminished hearing.  Years of head phone use is beginning to take a toll.  Also, I am a Teravainen.  Hollering is just normal communication.  Furthermore, I’m often dubious of the quality of my phone’s microphone.  I just want to make sure my caller on the other end of the line can hear me.  THE WIFE inevitably eye rolls/wide open eyes on this subject matter, but please disregahd her antics...


To buy us a few more minutes of sleep in the morning, THE WIFE and I let the kids melt their brains with an iPad until breakfast time.  I suppose our parents did kind of the same thing when we watched cartoons or the artist dude with the big fro’ who painted landscapes.  You know, on one of the seven television channels broadcasting at 6 a.m. on any given day.


So Greta can enter any search terms she wants on Google.  Gus knows his apps by icon.  Tilly has figured out the voice search option on Google.


No, we don’t have any controls activated on the account.  Yes, we know they could potentially scar themselves for life by clicking on the wrong link.  Yes, Youtube has a strange combination of “recommended videos for you” on our home page.  No, you’re right - we are horrible, reckless, and lazy parents…


So, over the last few months, I’ve discovered the girls tend to watch a lot of videos on a Youtube channel called “Disney Cars Toy Club” or as the kids call it “DCTC.”  (Yes, I feel elderly saying that last part.)  DCTC has a bunch of links to pick from but the two I see over their shoulders most often are scenarios where toys are used in pretend skits or egg surprises.  It is kind of a fuckin weird situation if you’re not expecting it.  Let me put it this way - I watch the videos just bracing for the part in the middle of the clip when something inappropriate occurs.  But, fortunately, that has not occurred.


One girl - actually a grown woman I think - is the most frequent narrator whose voice is very recognizable because of its high pitch and weird monotone.  I imagine she either smokes a ton of weed, or belonged to some kind of cult where toys weren’t allowed when she grew up.  (And by the way, I am 99.9% certain she makes a ton more dough than the Bank of Tera so high five to you, weird girl with the nice nails and eerie voice.)


In the toy skits, she’ll take say, Barbie and Skipper, who need to walk the dog but are interrupted by Ken along the way who wants to take them for a ride in his new convertible.  She speaks the voices of the toys and plays out some kind of a scene.  


In the egg surprises, the narrator opens chocolate eggs (or play-doh covered eggs) that contain a toy inside - like an Elsa figurine or a Shopkin - and provides commentary the whole time.  After the toy is revealed, the speaker reacts depending upon how rare the toy is that was located inside.  Yes.  That’s it’.  


And yet, the girls are absolutely riveted when this is on.  They do not hear a single word that I say to them.  It is the yin to THE WIFE’s Real Housewives/Dance Moms yang.  If a DCTC episode was on the iPad at the same time Kate Gosselin or a Duggar family member or Tori Spelling were on TV, I could walk around the house clad solely in Sorels and an oversized foam “Jets are # 1” finger on my hand and no one would say a word.


Anyways, I realized that Greta and Tilly now pretend play together often where they are acting as though they have their own DCTC channel and show.  They pretend that a camera is filming while they arrange dolls in a scene.  They provide the dialogue and improvise the plot.  The girls “open” the show with a “Hi Guys” and maybe a “welcome to our American Girl Doll Club channel.  We hope you leave a comment at the end of our video.”  It is awesome.


If you really want to make Greta’s day, please click on the following link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0MtlntQpUtc.  Fast forward to the very end so the view counter clicks and it appears as though you watched the entire video - and I will be able to tell her that she had more than one view of her new video we made on Saturday.  It’s not exactly Terrence Malick a la The Thin Red Line cinematography but...


If you want to see one example of the many takes that go in the trash bin, check out this gem where Tills comes in halfway through and ruins Greta’s day - classic death stare that unfortunately gets somewhat cut off: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rmrJv1pLgaM.  


____


As the kids become more adept at search engine optimization for locating online videos of choice, their tastes in music and videos have also become more refined.  All three are big Top 40 fans, which is clearly high end.  And all five of us Ts have eventually come around to become devout Beliebers.  I’ve managed to convince Tilly that it’s worthwhile to listen to Justin Beaver, even though he threw eggs at someone’s house.  (I have no idea where she heard about it but Tilly was seriously a bit crestfallen by that anecdote.)  Hearing her say “The Beeps” with her lisp just makes my day.


Anywho, I don’t know which video is our fave.  “Sorry (PURPOSE: The Movement) is fantastic for the dance moves.  I wish I could pull off just one of those gyrations but I’m confident a chiropractor would receive a house call.  “Where Are U Now” [sorry I don’t know how to put the umlauts over the u] is pretty cool for the visual effects.  


As for “What Do You Mean?”  This is totally age inappropriate, for any kid, I know.  But that’s what you get in exchange for sleeping an extra hour on a Saturday morning to make it to 7 a.m.  


So after having watched the video about ten times, the plot line suddenly began to show some holes from my vantage point.  (Yes, it took me that long before I actually questioned the narrative flaws.)  Now granted, this is kind of like breaking down “Point Break” or “Road House.”  You either just watch it and question nothing, or otherwise you find yourself asking “Wait, that makes no sense” every other minute.


Although the music video is only 5 minutes long, questions abound.  Let’s start at the beginning.


Time - 0:00 to 0:26.  Cue the rain.  Why?  Why did this conversation need to take place in a downpour with thunder and lightning?  Why does John Leguizamo need to have a spider tattoo on his hand?  Why doesn’t either Justin or John have either a rain coat or an umbrella?  And has anyone ever seen a wad of cash that thick before in real life?  Is that a poorly veiled reference to Justin’s manhood?  Am I analyzing this a little too deeply?  Yes.  Yes, I am.


Time - 0:27 to 2:01.  Is there any motel room in the world that has a pink neon light circumventing the room?  How much do actors get paid to appear in a music video?  Did Calvin Klein pay money to have product placement of their boxer briefs?  And yes, again, this is totally age inappropriate for a 4 year-old to watch.


Time - 2:02 to 2:49.  Kudos for the creepy masks.  The presidents’ masks in "Point Break" were also excellent choices.


Time - 2:50 to 3:25.  Did Justin Beaver do his own stunt here?  I imagine this would be kinda cool.  Haven’t seen this move since Martin Riggs in the first "Lethal Weapon."  


Time - 3:26 to 3:37.  Um, what exactly is 51 year-old John Leguizamo doing at this party?  Isn’t he the consummate creepy old guy in the midst of a mid-life crisis that no 20-something woman speaks to by attending this event?  And if we recall correctly, wasn’t it 3 o’clock when the original break-in/abduction occurred?  Are we convinced this many people are going to make the effort to attend the hot girl’s twisted surprise party at this late hour?


Time - 3:38 to 4:34.  Do you notice that the Beebs is on the skateboard for a few shots?  But only one shot shows him skating in front of the huge crowd of peeps.  The rest are with no one else on the half pipe. Just sayin.


Time - 4:35 to 4:36.  I originally believed that Justin totally wiped his nose with the same hand that he subsequently uses to high five a passing skater.  After watching this a few times, though, I realized I was wrong.  But I was watching! (And speaking of runny noses, what's the deal with Post Malone and his nasal drip in the "White Iverson" video? I digress.)


Time - 4:37 to end.  No comments.  Just kinda wishing I could be abducted like this for my 41st birthday.  Call me John Leguizamo.  Let’s make this happen...


And that’s a wrap.  My Saturday night at home solo with the kids is clearly an exciting one.  

“Hi guys!  We hope you enjoyed our American Girl Doll Channel and you leave a comment at the end of our video.”  

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Part III of III: Tilly, the Barbarian

I assume that somewhere in the Irish and Finnish blood that flows through Tilly’s veins, there are remnants of DNA from a Viking or two.  For fans of the show on the History Channel (a new season begins this week,) Tilly would probably be the love child of Lagertha and Rollo if they made a baby.  


On one hand, we have a hilarious, smart, endearing, unabashed, affectionate, and adorable little peanut.  She (supposedly) behaves at her twice a week school and gets along with her classmates.  She rarely has any reluctance to speak with grown ups or kids alike.  Her facial expressions and mannerisms are more like a seventeen year-old than a four year-old pre-schooler.  She thinks and moves quickly on her feet.  And she can make anyone laugh.  The Tills loves leopard prints, sequins, kitty cats, and most any outfit with some kind of flair or pizzazz.  Her taste is like a combination of Punky Brewster, Lady Gaga, and Cyndi Lauper.  


A trend we’ve noticed lately that Tilly has taken to is a self-appointed role as the nickname creator.  She is the only one I know who calls Greta, “Gret.”  Officially, Greta dislikes it but I think she kinda digs it deep down inside.  BFF Alysha is “Aleesh.”  BFF Dillan is “Dilly.”  I am Dadoo, which Gus has adopted and calls me now, and I love it when any of the kids use it.  Nana is Nanny occasionally.  And so on.


On the other hand, we have a child occasionally possessed by Lucifer.  Her stamina for over-the-top tantrums is actually kind of impressive.  On a bad day, Matilda has a hair trigger that activates the flip sesh.  In other words, practically nothing will set her off.  Not being able to wear a certain pair of pajamas because they’re in the washing machine.  Not being allowed to go outdoors in the winter sans pants.  Not being allowed to watch a show because it’s dinner time.  No dessert.  Basically, if she just hears the word “no.”


Whatever the cause, the fuse gets lit at the initial confrontation.  She is indignant at being denied what she wants.  She pleads that we reconsider.  The more we dig in, the more inflamed she becomes.  Voices are raised.  Feet are stomped.   Sometimes THE WIFE and I maintain our cool.  Sometimes, well, we kind of lose our fucking heads too.  Next thing you know, voices are at a holler pitch.  Doors are slammed.  Ridiculous threats are issued on both sides.  (“I am going to leave this family!”  “Fine, go ahead!  Here’s some bus fare.”  Etc.)


The true sign of a complete meltdown is this crazy move that Tilly does where she is lying on the floor and basically executes what looks like a jack knife dive as she lies on her side.  Except she does it at pace that makes her look like someone trying to do ab crunches in a crossfit competition.  Or maybe a deleted scene from “The Exorcist.”  It’s weird and funny and disturbing all at the same time.


Oh Tilly.  She drives THE WIFE and me to our absolute limit and further.  I’m ashamed at how badly I can bark back at her when she has pierced my (albeit thin) layer of calm patience.  She possesses a degree of fiery insanity that I’ve never observed in another child.


And yet, when you get the happy and behaved version of Till-Tills, all you want to do is hold her in your arms to cuddle and kiss and squeeze.  She is like a pet spider monkey who can scramble over any piece of furniture to plop herself into a lap.  She also has an uncanny ability to spill any size drink no matter how many warnings you give.  I swear she could find a way to spill one of those coffee mugs for boats that are like empty upside down flood light bulbs.


I think Matilda is yet another example of how youngest siblings get the shaft in the parental effort department.  At six months old, Greta ate organic, free range, humanely raised, antibiotic-free baby carrots washed in imported Icelandic water that was hand ground into pulp and mixed with almond milk.  As a snack.  Meanwhile, Tilly was told that if she was hungry, she could go into the kitchen to pour herself some stale Fruit Loops and borderline spoiled chocolate milk.  


We have thousands of photos of Greta with first steps and first words recorded forever.  Hundreds of photos of Gus.  And maybe a few dozen of Tills.


Tilly’s crib had all of the residual bite marks of Greta and Gus-man on the gate.  She gets Greta’s hand-me-down clothes with the pre-existing stains.  Hell, this post is even a month later than the ones about her brother and sister.  As a result of the neglect, it’s easy to see how we as parents contribute to her projecting an already loud voice louder, her already big personality bigger.  


The other night, I was sitting on my bed reading the computer with my headphones on for tunes.  Tilly scaled her way into the bed and cozied up right beside me.  She asked me with her little lispy voice what I was doing as she pulled one of the phones off of my ear and onto hers.  Then she instructed me to play some Katy Perry.  Fearing the Viking and loving my cuddlebug, I queued up the “Roar” video for the umpteenth time in the last six months and just enjoyed the moment.  

I suppose this is the part of the story where I just sigh and shrug my shoulders with a smile.  My baby is one of a kind, that’s for sure.  I wouldn’t trade her for the world.  I think.  

Sunday, January 24, 2016

The World According to Gus

Part II of III


The five and a half year-old Gussy loves his routines.  Here is a typical day for the little man.


Almost always the first kid to wake up, Gus strolls casually into his parents’ room on a quest to locate the iPad.  With the objective accomplished, he returns to his room and closes the door.  That is a detail that cannot be left out.  He has a thing about keeping his bedroom door closed.  If someone leaves it open, he sighs, stops what he’s doing, gets up, and closes the door.  Then he returns to his iPad.


Every morning, Gus eats a bowl of dry cheerios and some mini-chocolate chip muffins.  And I mean, every morning.  Usually we get a banana and a smoothie in him as well but not always.  Two Flintstones’ vitamins go down without a fight.  As O’s drop and bounce haphazardly on the table, chair, and floor, he demands a book to be read during breakfast - often leaving the table to bring one over and jam it into your face for emphasis.


Gus has a slight obsession with books.  And he always wants to read six of them for some reason.  I don’t know why but that’s his magic number.  Gerald and Piggie are his go-to.  Pete the Cat is acceptable.  “M is for Metal” still rocks his world.  (Thank you Goldberg-Kelly family.)  He would be pretty much content to have a book read to him for an entire day if someone was willing to indulge him.


After breakfast come the clothes.  He pretty much rejects any pants nowadays that aren’t sweats or warm-ups.  (Dressing by himself is still kind of a chore but we practice every night with PJ’s.)  If it’s a school day, he inevitably complains.  And if it’s a really bad day, he spaghetti leg squats onto the floor and flounders around to thwart being handled.  


Gus is still wearing a pull-up but 99% of the time it’s only for a pee.  I’d take that option over the alternative any day of the week and twice on Sundays.  


His speech is improving every day, too.  There are occasional moments when Gus will go on an unprompted tangent such as … anything having to do with riding in my car.  (He absolutely loves cruising in the Malibubonic with the windows down and the radio on.)  He will launch into a twenty question deposition asking “ah we taking Daddy’s cah?” and “where ah we goin?”  (The Mass. accent seems to be rooting.)  When he goes on rolls like this, THE WIFE and I just look at each other and grin with unspoken pride.  Granted, those outside of his inner posse often struggle to understand what Gus says without a “translator” nearby but honestly, he’s getting there bit by bit every single day.


So eventually, one of us somehow gets Gus onto the “bus” (technically, it’s a tricked out van) with Miss Vera (the sweetest lady in Easton) when she arrives around 8.  We chat it up with the other kiddos while we buckle Gus’ seat belt.  After we exit, all family members present do this thing we call the “deet-dee-dee-deet” by sticking our thumbs in our ears and making antlers with our hands.  We nod our heads side to side and say “deet-dee-dee-deet” over and over again until the bus pulls away.  Most of the kids on the bus do it in return like a salute goodbye.  Then we blow kisses and flash “I love you” in sign language.  As McGoo-corny-Disney movie-Hallmark movie-American Girl movie-hoaky as it may sound to the curmudgeon, it’s one of the best parts of the day in my book.


(Then, Gus goes to school for six hours and we have no clue what the hell happens.  But that’s another blog for another day.)


Mr. Nick (great dude) drops off Gus around 2.  G-man rarely volunteers anything about the day’s events.  He just comes in on a mission to play with whomever is home or watch a show (usually Yo Gabba Gabba or Super Why.)  He strips off his neon New Balance kicks immediately (he much rather prefers his Crocs) and marches into the living room to roll around in weird positions on the couch cushions.  If he had a butler, he’d ring a bell for Goldfish.  And milk.  Please.  (He is very polite.)  
At dinner, Gus will eat pasta and cucumbers.  And pretty much nothing else.  And when he eats his cucumber, our Anthony Bourdain only eats the inner seedy flesh.  The uneaten outer portions sit on the plate like the remnants of a watermelon rind complete with bite marks.  


On good nights, we have a post-dinner dance party in the kitchen.  Gus’ favorite song hands down is “Honey I’m Good” by Andy Grammer.  He literally gets bullshit when anyone else tries to sing because it’s his song.  


G-man’s patented dance move is a rocking side to side bounce that alternates one foot in the air while patting his arms on his thighs.  Gus also has a little kick move that busts out every once in a while when he’s fired up.  We’ve recently started expanding on the choreography, so stay tuned for updates on his candidacy for “So You Think You Can Dance.”  


Next comes tubby time.  Although it’s getting tight, we still try to bathe all three of the kids at once.  They generally fight within two minutes of entry if they’re not already fighting about something.  And all of them are equally to blame.  Then brushing of teeth.  Then reading of books.


In addition to the standing order that we read six books, the reading must take place in mom’s and dad’s bed.  Once done, finally, he’s off to bed.  However, Gus’ particularities don’t end there.


First of all, Gus insists on his Monsters, Inc. sheets like a celebrity insists upon 5000-count Egyptian cotton linens.  And when he finally lays his head down on the pillow, Sully and Mike have to be right side up facing him - not Squishy and Terry/Terri who are on the other side.  If I forget to turn on his sound machine or pull down his shade, Gus will grunt with indignation and beckon me back to take care of business.  Then.  Finally.  It’s lots of kisses and squeezes, I love you’s, and the light is off.


~~~~


Every once in a while, Gus and I will be out and about somewhere when we encounter a small child with his or her mom or dad.  That child, innocent as can be, might stare at Gus with wonder.  The child knows that something seems a bit different about Gus.  Some say nothing and move on, or they may say “His eyes look funny,” or something else totally innocuous and honest.  The poor mother or father nervously smiles or laughs and attempts to distract the child to avoid any awkwardness.  


Let me say right away that I totally get it.  Our feelings are not hurt whatsoever.  If I had no child with DS, I would probably react the exact same way.  I would have no idea what the right thing to do or say in that situation is either.  Just know that from our family to yours: it’s cool.  Your child is just calling it like it is.


Gus is different because he is as unique as any other kid in the universe, but also because he has DS, and also because he loves “Honey, I’m good” and cucumbers.  He is a little love but he’s not above reproach.  If he misbehaves - or makes a bad choice as we like to say around here - then he needs to be disciplined accordingly.  


There are very compassionate and caring people out there that blindly love people with DS because they are “special” or some other synonym.  Those folks are not wrong and we absolutely love that supporters like them are out there.  We welcome their encouragement without reservation and thank them for watching our backs.


But here’s the thing.  As parents, we want Gus to continue winning people over with his charisma, sense of humor, sweetness, affection, quirks, and everything else that is wonderful about him.   However, we don’t want him to get a free pass just because he has Down’s.  Make him earn your love.


Don’t get me wrong.  We love all our homies with extra chromies no doubt.  But we love anyone who is our family’s homey with or without extra chromies period.  


I hate to get all philosophical or lecture mode on you, dear reader.  Especially on a day when peeps might be going to church.  So, let me steer us back to where we started.  Andy Grammar - cue the music for our re-mix:


“Oh no, honey we’re good.  Gus loves your jam.  And he rocks it all the time.  He’s.  Got.  A family at home.  Who loves him a lot.  And..”

Sorry Gus just grabbed the mike and he’s running away with it.  We’ll catch up with you next time!

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Greta, the Thinker

Hi world!  We have a lot of catching up to do.  I promised a new installment before Tilly's birthday.  It's long overdue.  So here comes part I of III below.

After we get you up to speed on my peanuts, I'm hoping to post on a more frequent basis.  No guarantees, but just know that I'm trying.

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My parents had a small statue of Rodin’s Le Penseur in the house when I was growing up.  I never gave it much attention until an art history class in college made me realize what it was.  Anyway, I failed to give it further thought (no pun intended) until recently while observing Miss Greta Jane.  


While she seems to be flourishing in school (she loves reading, writing, and art in particular,) the “thinker” side of Greta that I love is not necessarily related solely to academics.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m so proud that learning is fun for her and seems to be going well.  But there is another side to Greta’s pensive nature that I appreciate even more.


Analysis.  Greta can sit and mull over a topic, digesting it.  Marinating it.  Without any urgency.  It might be a few minutes, or it might be a few days.  Once the thought has fermented, she volunteers an opinion that is insightful, thoughtful, and smart.  I would smile and laugh out of love but that doesn’t go over very well.  (More on that below.)  In any event, her knack for reflection makes me excited for the potential depths of our future conversations to come.  I just marvel at how her brain works.


For example, a few weeks back I decided to try out a church in town.  I brought her along for the ride.  We both hated it.  But at least we tried.  Anyways, while we were driving she asked me some questions about God.  I was super stoked already because these are the kinds of parent-child conversations that get my juices flowing.  So we’re going back and forth until we encounter a pause.  A moment or two later, G suddenly pipes up.  “So God is kinda like Santa Claus?”  I wanted to jam on the brakes and hug her, I was so proud.  


Second, and probably even more important, Greta has a keen sense of vibe.  Reading people or even a room.  Actually, let me rephrase on the people part.  She doesn’t trust adults implicitly.  With kids, she seems to want to play with anyone near her age.  Great kids.  Bratty kids.  Nice kids.  Shy kids.  Grumpy kids.  Doesn’t really matter.  (I suppose that’s fine for now, but come high school, I obviously hope she stays away from d-bags and riff raff.)  But as for adults, you need to earn her comfort level first.  If you give her bad juju, Greta keeps you at an arm’s length.  If she feels the love, you know it.  She will seek your engagement in a conversation or game or art project or impromptu dance performance, etc.


As for a room’s vibe, our recent trip to Edaville is illustrative.  We had recently discussed the issue of not talking to strangers because of a failed abduction in our town.  We were taking a break in a cafeteria.  Two older guys were sitting next to us without any kids.  I didn’t take much notice of them.  Eventually, they left.  Greta mentioned how the guys seemed suspicious to her.  When I asked why, she said something like “well, two people tried to steal a kid in Easton and those were two guys at a kid park without any kids.”  Again, her brain just blows me away.


On the flip side - and I don’t mean this as an insult - she is very sensitive.  Very reminiscent of her mother.  And perhaps a bit of her father too.  Sensitivity can be a wonderful strength.  But it can also be a cruel weakness.  And this is where I start to live in fear of Greta’s transition from young child to elementary school kid.  


Here’s what I mean.  When we sit at the dinner table talking about her day, we spend very little time on ABCs or arithmetic.  Instead, the focus is almost exclusively on how a girl didn’t want to sit next to her on the bus, or how another girl ignored her at recess, or how someone wasn’t filling her bucket.  She cried at dinner a few weeks ago because her name was mentioned on the announcements but none of her friends mentioned it to her during the day.  (I swear I’ve eavesdropped on some version of this same conversation during one of THE WIFE’s telephone chats with a girlfriend.)


When these anecdotes first arose, my instinct was to say “Oh that’s too bad” and move on.  But THE WIFE - to her credit - will instantly go into therapist mode and engage in a half-hour long exercise discussing how the experience made Gigi feel.  That’s where I tune out Spaceman Spiff-style and go into Homer Simpson/singing songs inside my head mode while everyone talks.


These new scenarios scare the shit out of me because: 1) Greta has a problem; 2) it pains me to see my beautiful child unhappy or sad; 3) I am only good at proposing solutions to problems; 4) I have about a 20-second tolerance for listening to someone express their feelings about a problem rather than focusing on a solution; 5) my proposed solution in this case is “ignore her and you will find that she comes around later”; and 6) Greta hates my proposed solution.  Therefore, I am useless.  AND WE’RE ONLY TALKING ABOUT FIRST GRADE!  


What kind of complex problem will Greta disclose when she is 13 years old?  What about 17 years old?  I don’t even know how to operate Snapchat.  I’ve never seen Tinder.  I still have a hotmail e-mail address for Christ’s sake.  I’m already feeling unqualified to maintain dad credentials.  


The other day Greta told me she was looking for her “fuggs.”  I said “What are fuggs?”  She said, “Fake uggs.”  How the hell does she know what real uggs are or not?  Fortunately, she seemed fine with the knockoffs but what happens when only the name brands will do?  Not to mention the need to get a third job at that point, the prospect of a future “Mean Girls” situation involving clothes or body image makes me cringe even more.


Pause.  Deep breath.  Smell the roses.  Chill.  Relax.  Okay.  Namaste.


I’m treasuring how when Greta walks through the house, she can’t go more than 20 feet without practicing a cartwheel or a dancing twirl or the move when she puts both arms on a surface, leans forward, and kicks her legs behind her.  She sings without self-consciousness.  Hell, she still feels comfortable enough to walk around the house naked in front of her family.  That reminds me she is still a little girl.  But the transition to bigger kid is already upon us.  And I really am so excited to be along for her ride.  Even if I have to ask her to explain how Uber works.  

At least going out for ice cream still works as a plan B to make her feel better.  I have to enjoy that as a solution while it still lasts!