Aaron’s beginning to understand that Lillian leaves to go to work at night. One night, as he was going to bed, he asked her, “You going to work?”
“Why you going to work?”
“So I can make money.”
“To buy you presents.”
“But why you gotta go to work?”
At that point, it went around again. Aaron was playing the badger-you-until-you-answer-what-I-want game. Finally, he accepted that she was going to go, and he went to bed.
The next morning, when Lillian returned from work, he woke up, went to her and asked, “You go to work?”
“Yeah, I’m back already.”
“You get the money?”
“Can I go to sleep now? Please?”
I don’t expect to hear that again for another year.
Last week, we took the kids on the Niles Canyon Train of Lights. That’s an accurate description of the train, alright. After we drove into sleepy little Sunol, we came upon the bright and lavishly decorated classic train.
We got on the train and were amazed at how well each car was decorated. Then, the train started its journey, and we all gathered at the window to look at the countryside. Well, the countryside was moonlit, but pretty unremarkable. Just hills and trees, mostly.
To keep Aaron from getting bored, I tried to engage him with questions and observations. Things like, “Can you find the moon,” “Look! We’re on a bridge,” and “Can you find the house?” Aaron got into it, and was anxious to discover and find every little thing.
He seemed OK, so I went to give Maddie some attention, too. Before long, Aaron called out.
“What is it, Aaron?”
“What are we finding now?”
Corny as it is, there are no words that could have made a Daddy happier. They’re way up there with “I did it!” I made sure Aaron found lots of other amazing things on the trip.
My wife is very conflicted about December. Christmastime is her favorite time of year. But, she also has to deal with three birthdays within a month of each other. (Everybody in our family but her!)
I understand that it’s a very busy time, and I appreciate that she makes each birthday very special. But I always wonder, what’s the big deal? Throw a few parties, give some goodie bags, everybody has a great time, and you’re done, right?
Last night, I was reading Sleeping Beauty to the kids before bedtime. The evil fairy Maleficent had just attempted to murder Princess Aurora, had imprisoned Prince Philip, and was now fighting him to the death. Maddie asked me, “Why does Maleficent want to hurt Prince Philip?”
“Because she didn’t get invited to Princess Aurora’s birthday party.”
If that’s what Disney teaches little girls, I think I understand my wife’s ambivalence about December a little better.
A few days ago, Maddie drew the following picture, a recreation of a scene from her day at school:
Naturally, I was pleased. Her teachers must have been encouraging the kids to shake hands as a gesture of friendship. So I asked her which kids were befriending which other kids.
“That’s Ash punching Marissa. And that’s me punching Edmund.”
So. My daugher illustrated her first schoolyard rumble. OK, it’s not so much a rumble since everybody is smiling, and Maddie hits like a girl. But still, I couldn’t help but wonder what drawings might come our way in the near future if we let this trend continue.
I hereby present my extrapolation of future illustrations:
Yesterday, we celebrated Maddie’s birthday at her preschool. Aaron’s a stay-at-home toddler, so going to the preschool is always a joy for the kid. He gets to see his big sister whom he hasn’t seen in hours.
We brought pizza and cake to the preschool for everybody. It was organized chaos, but eventually we got all the kids sitting and eating, and all the teachers got a chance to enjoy their pizza too. Until we heard…
“Look at me!”
“Look at me, Daddy!”
So we look around, and in the sea of little bodies eating pizza at their tiny tables, there’s one arm frantically waving around. It’s Aaron.
“I see you. What is it Aaron?”
“I’m eating pizza!”
It wasn’t just that he was eating pizza. It was that he was sitting with all the preschoolers at one of their tables eating pizza! As if he had joined their ranks. That was just the start of it. For the rest of the celebration, Aaron milled around with the bigger preschoolers, pretending to be one of them, always calling out to us to make sure we see what a big boy he is.
Soon, he’ll be attending the same preschool too. He’s more ready for it than we are.
That was me, thrashing about and screaming like a little girl in the middle of the night. A foot-long rat had dropped onto the comforter over my legs. The rat was scrambling around and jumping frantically, trying to get back from whence it came. Try though it might, it kept landing on my legs. I managed to roll out from under it, with it still tangled in the comforter.
Lillian, on the other hand, just before the rat dropped, was woken up by a huge spider that appeared on her chest, and was threatening to bite her. She thrashed about, too, but didn’t scream like a schoolgirl. She jumped out of the bed on her side, and I stood across from her with the vermin between us buried in the comforter.
After a couple “What was that?” and a few “No, it was a spider” and “No, that was a rat”s, we agreed to shake out the comforter, and to deal with whatever fell out. Gingerly, we took to the task, and after we shook out the comforter, nothing fell out.
We eventually had to accept the fact that we’d both vividly dreamt the critters. Her thrashing after encountering the spider probably causing me to feel the rat.
Chalk up another perk of parenthood: Daily exhaustion to the point of communal hysteria and delirium.
Today Aaron, my almost-three-year-old son, and I went out for a walk. He had already gone bicycle riding with Mommy, so he didn’t want to do that again. With me, he wanted to take his sister’s toy stroller around the block. With a little naked dolly and pretend milk bottle inside. Okaay.
I’m man enough to go out with my son as he merrily pushes the dolly stroller around. Especially since it was early afternoon on a workday, and nobody I knew would be around. Right as we left the house, it turns out that my neighbor was home early from work and was doing some yard work. He gives my son a big ol’ smile. I resignedly give him a wave.
Aaron and I continue on, stopping every once in a while to make the dolly more comfortable or to feed him. Not two houses down, we were spotted by the mailman, making early rounds today. He gives us a hearty hello, too. I want to explain how it’s his sister’s stroller, but think better of it.
Aaron decided he wants to take a longer walk than usual. Great, I think. A couple of blocks away, we reach the top of a little paved hill. Aaron, bless his heart, stops to adjust the baby, then in one deft motion, pushes the stroller down the hill. As the stroller careens towards destruction, he cries out, “Oh, Baby!!”
He runs down the hill after the stroller crashes, and drags the stroller back to the top to re-enact the catastrophe again, crying after the speeding dolly and all. So that was the point of bringing the doll on the trip. For some reason, everything felt better.
Aaron’s sitting on the toilet going pee-pee, and he looks down on himself as he goes. Lillian is sitting nearby watching him, and he says, “What’s that?”
She: What’s what?
So she walks over to him to see what he’s pointing at.
She: Oh, that’s your scrotum.
She: Yeah, your scrotum.
Aaron: No, that’s balls.
She (with a smile): Yeah, you’re right, those are your balls.
Aaron (with a smile): Yeah, they’re our balls…
You stand me, Daddy?!
You stand me?
You stand me, Daddy!
That’s what Aaron was yelling at me from the back seat as we made our way home from Disneyland. He and Maddie were pretending to chastise each other, “you’re so bad!” “No, you’re so bad!” When suddenly he evidently wanted me to stand up while driving the car.
I told him that I didn’t know what he was talking about. “Sorry, kiddo. I don’t understand you.”
You stand me, Daddy?!
He said it again with the fury and the conviction of the righteous. Lillian laughed, and explained to me that Aaron was asking me if I understand him. Huh, I had answered his question without realizing it.
But why the attitude? What was that about?
When the kiddos misbehave, I try to give them one clear warning about the consequences of their behavior. If they don’t shape up, they’ll lose a treasured privilege. Later that day, when Aaron was getting on my nerves, I gave him the customary warning with the usually stern, “Did you understand that, Aaron?” He didn’t reply, and I insisted on it. I gave him one more forceful “Do you understand me, Aaron?” before I connected the dots.
Oh… So that’s how I am. I didn’t know the kids could create such accurate reflections of ourselves.