Saturday, October 22, 2011

Waving The White Flag

Well, it’s official. I’m a eunuch. The minivan has assumed its position as the T family truckster, at least for the next three years of our lease. I’m doing my best to avoid being seen near it - let alone in it - or God forbid, driving it.

In a minivan, I just feel emasculated. I’m a soccer mom. I’m swerving in my lane because I’m oblivious to any traffic around me. I’m trying frantically to play a DVD as the kids scream for Nemo as I schedule a parent-teacher conference on my cell phone. I’m yelling at my kids in the back seat to “stop touching your brother’s seat!”

Don’t get me wrong. I totally understand the functionality and the convenience of a minivan a/k/a the F.U.V. I will not debate anyone on those points. And as far as cost goes, it’s the most sensible decision from our budget based on the monthly payment and gas mileage. I get it. The F.U.V. totally makes sense from a graphs and charts perspective.

Just please don’t be offended when I decline the cup of pink Kool Aid (now) fellow F.U.V.ers who try to push the envelope by suggesting how awesome it is to have a Caravan/Town&Country/Siena/Odyssey/Astro, etc. Let’s just call it what this automotive transition is for me – another surrender to un-cool.

As for my car resume, it’s generally unimpressive to those with fancy pants tastes. But to the “cool” car enthusiasts, the history is rich. In order, they’ve gone like this: Toyota Corolla FX hatchback (used); Chevy Malibu Classic (used); Chevy Corsica (used); Dodge Aries K (very used and short-lived unfortunately); Ford Escort (used); Mercury Mariner (lease); Honda Civic (lease); Ford Ranger (used); and Chevy Malibu (work lease). Most of them had affectionate nicknames: Uncle Buck, the Bubonic, or Bu (original Malibu); T-minus Escrat (Escort); the Grand Marnier or Marinara (Mercury); and Ricky (the Ranger.) All of them hosted great memories and adventures.

Granted, most of my rides were not exactly hot rods that a bikini-clad woman might lay on awkwardly while a hip-hop star rapped about the rims during a music video. Nor were my wheels ever the kind of car that one would cruise in during high school to attract attention on Elm Street in Manchester on a Saturday night, by whistling at girls with (very) high bangs well supported by product.

But I’ve always loved my cars. The older, rustier, more dented, or otherwise shanked they were, the more I enjoyed being in them. I especially loved pulling up in one of my beaters at a stop light next to a car occupied by an attractive woman or women. I would flash the gap-toothed grin that said “Who is this mystery guy in a shitty car that’s still smiling like he’s thinking he’s all that?” As one might expect, the usual reaction was the other car driving quickly away from me as soon as the light turned green but you get the picture. It was all about my perspective.

Okay, after writing the last paragraph, it’s dawned on me that perhaps my level of coolness has never really attained Arthur Fonzarelli-like status. Or at least, it’s not the kind of car that dictates whether one qualifies for cool points or not. Sounds to me like it’s mostly about the driver’s state of mind. [Sigh.]

So where’s that cup of Kool-Aid anyway? It’s time to go for a ride.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Status Update

I haven’t captured much about the kids lately so it felt overdue to reduce a few recent trends to writing for the history books. I feel like [insert cliche] we’ve blinked and they suddenly aged like the curious case of Benjamin Button except just the opposite.

At two years and eight months old, Greta is fast forwarding into a mini-person before my very eyes. Her personality and disposition just blow me away.

I need to videotape our conversations more. When she wakes up in the morning, we always talk about her dreams. Usually, it’s a combination of butterflies, Santa Claus, Tinkerbell, lady bugs, ice cream cones, and how she doesn't need her diaper changed. I’d tell her my dreams about suddenly realizing I forgot to put clothes on before a court appearance, but it would only confuse the conversation so I just ask her to tell me more.

I love that when I come home from work, and it’s been about 22 hours since I last saw her when she went to bed the night before, but Greta just picks up conversation with me as if we were talking two minutes ago.

GRETA: Daddy, can I tell you a question?

ME: Of course. What is it?

GRETA: I saw the hummingbird today.

ME: No way. What color was he (already knowing the answer)?

GRETA: Purple. Daddy, do you know what would be really cool?

ME: What?

GRETA: If we go outside and paint. Or go on the swings.

She kills me. A few more tendencies that need to be memorialized, though I’m sure I’m forgetting something.

Greta finally includes the number ten when she counts now. Before, she jumped immediately from nine to eleven. And if we’re ever up to the teens with her numbers, “eleventeen” always makes a candid appearance somewhere after twelve.

Oh, and Greta has named her baby sister in mommy’s belly “Boya.” No clue where that came from, but Baby Tiebreaker is only Baby Boya during conversation in the house. Done.

What else? Her favorite instrument is the "titar." Augey and Daddy have a "peenus," while Greta and Mommy have a "gina." And her grandfather "Ukki" is in every plane that flies over our heads.

At the same time, however, Greta is vigorously resisting using the potty. We have tried every trick in the book. A poop and pee chart in the bathroom with a crayon and stickers taped next to it for the next time she goes. A bag full of tantalizing prizes within eye shot of the changing station. Promises to bring her to the store if she just sits on the bowl. Big girl panties with cool characters. But no, she doesn’t budge. Her response is “I’ll try it next week.”

As for my G-man, he has gone from crawling backwards into crawling forward in a frog-hop/breakdance worm. You gotta keep an eye on him, or he’ll suddenly be heading out a door towards whatever attractive nuisance is in sight.

Gus has had a few other milestones lately of his own. Holding and drinking from a sippy cup. Blowing kisses when you only ask him, instead of doing it in front of him first. Waving hi. He has even just started to pull himself up to stand. THE WIFE picked up G-man's first high tops to help with placing his feet down flat.

When people talk about appreciating the little things, Gus seems to remind us of that with every new discovery.

Yet, Gus is no little angel either. He is known to grab Greta’s hair by the handful and yank it out much to his sister’s chagrin. He’s also not afraid to rake his little fingers down into the eyeballs of whomever is holding him. I had a nice little scratch on my face courtesy of the G-man recently. But it's all good.

Meanwhile, THE WIFE and I still find ways to lovingly annoy the crap out of each other. For example, she hates that I don’t push the bathtub switch all the way down when I’m draining the bathtub.

WIFE: You’re doing it wrong.

ME: Don’t tell me my business devil woman. I know how to drain the tub best.

WIFE: Your way takes too long to drain the water.

ME: But I like hearing the noise of the water going down the drain.

WIFE: (audible sigh/groan and accompanying eye roll)

My biggest gripe lately is the constant state of laundry that our house is under. There are always a pile of folded clothes on the couch in the living room and a basket on the floor. When you go into the kids’ rooms, multiple piles of shirts and pants are organized in a sporadic manner that only she knows why – but they never seem to make it into a closet or drawer. And forget about our bedroom. It’s just a minefield of clothes that might be clean, but most likely are dirty, yet I don’t dare say anything out of fear for the sigh/groan and eye roll. (I will never understand why we can’t just spend one day every two weeks washing the clothes all at once and putting them away.) What can I say? It’s paradise over here.

So there you have it. A quick little snapshot of the state of affairs from the T-family abode. Anyone want to tell me any questions? Come on over so you can fold some laundry with Greta and I…