Thursday, July 2, 2015

Hoohoos and Vajayjays

Anatomy and physiology was my favorite class in high school.  While some of the ladies may have enjoyed the class more because of our teacher - rumor had it that Mr. K was easy on the eyes - I enjoyed it mostly because of the opportunity to answer questions using words (particularly when studying the reproductive system) that might otherwise be accompanied only with a stifled Beavis and Butthead giggle.  Plus, I was under the mistaken impression at the time that my future career would be sports medicine.  Even after my medical career was abandoned in college after a freshman year of mediocre science grades, I still memorize body parts (and world capitals) just in case they end up as categories when I audition for Jeopardy some day.  
Fast forwarding to our parental experiment, THE WIFE and I made a conscious decision early on to use appropriate anatomical verbiage when identifying body parts in conversation with the kids.  Rather than use the polite euphemisms of flower, vajayjay, tutu, wewe, etc., we've said vagina and penis since Greta's early days.  Proper terminology aside, it's still difficult to avoid a smirk or chuckle like junior high schoolers whenever such a chat arises.
At her current age, Tilly seems to have the most interest in discussing body parts and bodily functions. 
To understand the following, you should know that closed bathroom doors still mean nothing to her.
ME: (sitting on the bowl, perusing an almanac for the world's longest rivers by continent)
The bathroom door flies open.  Tilly marches in, satisfied that she located me.
TILLS: Oh, they you are.  Hey Dad.
ME: Hi bug.  
TILLS: (she surveys the room and strolls casually)  Are you pooping?
ME: Yeah.
ME: Can I help you with something?
TILLS: (glancing downward towards the bowl) You have a penis.
ME: Yes I do.
TILLS: Beguz you're a boy.
ME: That's right.
TILLS: And Gus has a penis beguz he's a boy.
ME: Yes he does.
TILLS: And I have a fagina.  [she mispronounces too many words so cutely, I can't correct her.]
ME: Yep.
TILLS: And Mommy and Greta have faginas.  Beguz they’re girls.  
ME: That's right.
(brief pause while TIlly tries to drink from THE WIFE's contact lens storage case)
ME: Honey, please put that down.  Can I have some privacy please?
TILLS: Where does poop and pee come from, Dad?
ME: (stalling to answer appropriately) Well, uh, after we eat and drink, our bodies take energy and vitamins and stuff from the food and water.  Then our bodies poop and pee what we don’t need.  
TILLS: But we don’t eat or touch poop or pee right?
ME: That’s right.  Never. Ever.  And you should always ask for help when you’re wiping because you get spicy bum when you don't -
TILLS: Where does poop come out?
ME: There’s a hole in your bum.
ME: (tempted to say cornhole or one of the dozens of other better nicknames) No seriously, it’s called an anus-
TILLS: And it’s naughty to say “butt,” right Dad?  That’s why we say bum.  
ME: That’s right.
TILLS: And “shut up” is naughty to say, too, right Dad?  
ME: That’s right.
TILLS: But Shrek says “shut up” to Donkey.
ME: TIlls, can I have some privacy?
TILLS: Gussie said “stupid” today and Mommy gave him a time out…
And so on.  
The trending topic of late has been “boobies” so we’ve tried to steer them towards chest and nipples instead.  THE WIFE rolls her eyes, frowns, and shakes her head at me when she thinks I’m going overboard.  I’m pretty sure that happened when I tried to explain areolas during the “boobie” discussion.  I suppose I have to pick and choose my spots.  
THE WIFE and I haven’t yet covered feces, urine, bowel movement, testicles, vulva, or perineum with the kids.  But feel free to do so if Tilly happens to barge in on you during your “private time” on the potty.  Anyway, I’m off to find a quiet place for reading the almanac.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Happy Belated Birthday Grizz!

My father celebrated his 65th birthday with our extended family at a nice dinner party a few weeks ago.  Greta tagged along, which was great to have her with us.  Unfortunately, we had to hit the road early because it was a "school night."  The following was a toast I wanted to share at the post-party we never attended, which I e-mailed to the family later.  Figured it was worthy of a blog post!

When I was applying to colleges, I fell in love with UVM the minute I first visited there.  But money being money, it was going to be a challenge to finance the tuition as an out-of-state student.  Since 1993 was essentially a pre-Internet age, I borrowed a library book about scholarships and started hammering out applications on our electric typewriter.  

During this process, Dad told me how there was a scholarship offered at work.  Immediately, because it was his idea and I already knew everything I needed to know as a wise 17 year-old, I was skeptical and poo-poo'd his suggestion.  Undeterred, Dad told me to just "do it" and see what happens.  After much arm twisting, I filled out the application and away it went.

Months went by and the deadline to enroll in school was getting closer.  By spring, I was working part-time at the mini-golf and batting cage place behind the Brick House ice cream shack in Hooksett.  I was either dispensing tokens or raking up baseballs when I looked up and saw Dad walking over.  He had a big shit-eating grin on his face.  I noticed he was carrying some kind of oversized UPS envelope.  He handed it to me and told me to open it.  
Sure enough, our ship had come in.  I got the scholarship and we (me and the bank of Mom and Dad) were able to afford UVM.  He was right.  I was wrong.  As usual.  

Growing up, I had a few shining moments in sports or school or other stuff where he had witnessed whatever the occasion was.  He was subtle in his praise, always encouraging me but also making sure that I not let my head get too big.  

But when the AIG scholarship came through, Dad seemed genuinely proud.  Now part of his satisfaction was probably due to his being right and me being wrong (see above) but I think part of it was also that he was proud of me.   And that felt really good.

Fast forward nine years later to 2002.  I was in my last year of law school and working during the day.  I was living at 83 Westland.  Late one Sunday night, Dad showed up after a hasty phone call an hour earlier to make sure I was around.  When Dad arrived, he was carrying another letter.  He handed it to me and told me to open it.  

Sadly, the letter was from Roshaun's mother telling me that he had passed away.  To be honest, the remainder of that night is kind of a blur looking back.  All I know is that we grieved the loss of our beloved friend together.  I am tearing up now just thinking about it.  I'm glad I only have to write this story rather than tell it out loud to all of you because I would probably be a chin quivering mess.

My point is that in really good times, my father has been there for me to celebrate and enjoy the afterglow.  He has also been there for me in the tough times, as well.  Not only was Dad there metaphorically - he was literally present to deliver the news, both good and not.  

As a father and a friend, how could you ask for anything more than that?  As a father myself now, I will always appreciate and treasure those two moments as a lesson in parenthood and friendship.   

Thank you Dad for all of your love and support these past 40 years.  I love you for always being you.  I hope I can measure up some day.

Love always,

Friday, May 15, 2015

The Weekender

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away ... there was a couple.  Who were simply just dating.  Who were without children.  Who dared to have serious conversations, uninterrupted, while enjoying a meal that dared to be warm at the time of consumption.  Who slept - on a whim - for ten uninterrupted hours at night.  Who spontaneously ... did things without having to book a babysitter three months in advance.  Who ... went out to brunch on Sunday mornings and ordered Bloody Mary's instead of firing up the minivan to go to soccer practice, then to wiffle ball, then to swim lessons, then to a birthday party, etc.   Who debated about whether to eat dinner at Rainbow Dragon or Farragut House, instead of whose night it was to make pasta again and pack lunch boxes.

Then the couple got married.  And had kids.  The end.

(dramatic pause)

However, there is that once a year opportunity for THE WIFE and I to turn back the clock.  You know that trip I'm talking about.  The re-connector.  The "just the two of us" getaway.  The "oh yeah, this is why we love each other" weekend.  The two or three days when you ditch the kids with grandparents and possibly come home with a new addition to the family, assuming you were procrastinating on that vasectomy.  This much coveted, temporary, time travel away from reality is also know as ... the Weekender.

THE WIFE and I have our annual sojourn coming up soon.  And it got me thinking.  I need to prepare accordingly.

There are some classic do's and don'ts I follow when getting ready for a Weekender.  Here is a sample of the refresher course I read to myself in the mirror during the countdown to escape...

In the days leading up to a Weekender, it's important to maintain health at all costs.  Specifically, in the week before the trip, boost up the immune system.  DO take Vitamin C supplements and echinacea.  DO drink plenty of fluids.  DO get some extra rest.  In other words, DO wear a hazmat suit, if possible, when interacting with your kids and especially when conducting any pick up or drop off at day care or schools.  Then disinfect said child(ren) thoroughly upon returning home.  If outright quarantine is possible, by all means take advantage.

[I unfortunately learned this lesson the hard way shortly after arriving at the Chatham Bars Inn a few years ago.  A 24-hour stomach bug struck me just as we got settled into our hotel room.  All I remember from that weekend is watching Inception on demand while wrapped beneath a comforter as THE WIFE ordered room service.  Good times!]

DO avoid engaging in athletic or outdoor activities that you do not typically perform.  Sustaining a lower back injury during a first time cross-fit workout or pulling a groin during bikram yoga can severely impede late night - or God willing maybe even afternoon - activities.

DO make a little extra effort in your appearance for the weekend away.  Wax that back or nair the shoulder hair.  Manscaping is a good way to show your lady that she's not married to Wolverine.

DO NOT consume foods that cause chronic flatulence.  The rest of the year may be filled with unrestrained, spontaneous gas triggering dirty looks or wide eyed facial expressions, but the Weekender calls for impromptu morning cuddle sessions that DO NOT include Dutch ovens.

DO limit  conversation about the kids and child rearing during meals to ensure that there are other topics about which the two of you may focus.  For example, one's favorite Yo Gabba Gabba episode or whether Tilly is ready to sleep without a pacifier, are discussion pieces to be avoided.  Instead, focus on fun topics like "did you read anything interesting in Us Weekly today when we sat by the pool?"  Or perhaps, "Should we have red wine tonight or bubbles?  Or both?"  Then reminisce about the wine we drank during our honeymoon as we stared out towards the caldera.

DO NOT get jealous when THE WIFE begins to speak about how talented Adam Levine and Justin Timberlake are.  Although the seemingly innocuous statement is easily misunderstood code for "I would definitely swap you out for said performer and seven seconds of heaven," you must recognize that the observation could also mean "I want you to dance with me if we hear one of their songs when we go to a bar later this evening."

I would write more but I can't because one child is swinging from light fixtures and the other two are entangled in WWE techniques.  Get here soon Weekender.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Back in Black

I could bore you with reasons why there's been such a gap in any posts, but there's too much good stuff to catch up on.

"M Is For Metal" has become Gus' recent book obsession.  We temporarily lost the book a few weeks ago.  Gus noticed.  He started asking for the book when THE WIFE and I would ask the kids what they wanted to read before bed.  Or at breakfast before school.  (Yes, the kids like to have a quick read during their Cheerios or Puffs or Chex or whatnot.)

Finally, the book resurfaced.  And now all three kids can virtually recite the book word for word.

"M Is For Metal" is a cute but also fairly edgy ABC book that pays homage to some of the classic hard rockers of years past.  The book describes itself as "The loudest alphabet book on Earth."

Like most books of its kind, the outline follows a simple formula.  In alphabetical order, a short blurb takes inspiration from the respective letter in order while applying the musical genre's them.  For example, "O is for Ozzy who cleans up dog-doo.  He rests on the Sabbath and other days too."  The illustration depicts the former MTV reality show star clad in tatoos and slippers ironing, while surrounded by flying bats and a dog who, well, has clearly left a deposit near Ozzy's feet."  It's cute, I swear.

After a hundred reads or so, THE WIFE and I have taken a few liberties and added our own spins to various entries.  The kids have incorporated our creative additions and included them in their own unique ways.  Mostly, the humor is lost on them.  And the subjects of each entry are totally lost on them.

So, this morning as we proceeded through our ritual of breaking fasts, I decided to provide a little video perspective to help better explain the musical innuendo.  The results were amazingly entertaining.  The following is a loose transcript of the experiment.

"Q is for Queen, who were fruity as mango.  Scaramouche, scaramouche, can you do the fandango."  The accompanying illustration shows the band in their classic silhouette diamond pose from the Bohemian Rhapsody video but with different fruit on their heads.  And naturally, THE WIFE and I rarely resist singing the next few words in the song.

Me: There's Freddie Mercury.  He's one of the best singers ever.
Tilly: (confused) Are they boys?  Or are they girls?
Me: They're boys.
Greta: Why do they have hair like girls then?
Me: Well, that was kind of the style back then.
Tilly: (not giving up) Are they girls?
Me: They're boys, Tilly.  You see-

"W is for Windmill, that Pete likes to do.  But just who is Pete?  Who-who, who-who?"  Pete stands in his text book pose windmilling next to the blurb.  There is also "D is for Drums..." and Keith Moon is drumming wildly for the adjacent image but the percussion - inexplicably - is not exploding.

Me: Check out this clip of Pete doing the windmill and rocking out.
Greta: Why is he smashing the guitar?
Tilly: That's so silly, Daddy.
Me: I know Tills.  That's why he's so cool.
Tilly: I want to smash a guitar!  Can I smash a guitar?

"K is for Kiss, with make-up that runs.  Gene is the one with the longest of tongues."

WIFE: Look guys, this band always performed with the crazy make-up on their faces.
Greta: Are they boys?  Or are they girls?
Tilly: Make-up is silly.  Why do you wear spicy lip stick Daddy?
Me: It's chap stick, Tills.  Burt's bees.
Tilly: Yeah, but it's spicy.

"E is for Everyone stuck up the back.  This next song's for you ... it's called 'Back in Black.'"  Dunh.  Duh-nun-nuhn.  Duh-nun-nuhn.

Cue the questions about Angus in a school boy outfit and Gus ordering us forward to the next page.  Tomorrow morning, we'll be back for more ABCs from AC/DC and friends over eggs and bacon.  Hopefully, the volume will stay below 11.