Monday, September 20, 2010

Shiny Happy (pretentious judgmental) People

Okay, maybe not so shiny, but happy for the most part and definitely pretentious and partly judgmental. If you have ever been to one, you have probably guessed that I am talking about a wine festival. And yes we went, so I guess I have to be lumped in with the group. This particular wine festival was my first and, since I don't drink wine, wasn't my idea. My wife likes wine and she has been working very hard so I agreed to go and tote two little kids around a grassy field from stand to stand while my wife and her friends from work waited in line for one ounce sips of various wines in the misty rain. I consoled myself with little squares of cheese and sausage from various vendors.

I wasn't really that bad and it wasn't our first choice to bring our kids, but we aren't really that babysitter savvy, so we brought them and they had fun. They ran around in circles and chased each other around various people that were standing in line waiting for their one ounce samples. They ate crackers and pushed sticks around in the mud and got dirty. I did my best to corral them, but every once in a while the bulldozer would run into someone's legs and fall down. Sometimes she would walk in a zig zag fashion front of someone who was trying to pass her. "Watch where you're walking." I would say and pull her out of the way. Most people were nice, but a few weren't so shiny and happy.

"Why would you take kids to a wine festival? Are they interested in wine?" One very nice woman asked.
"So rude! So rude!" Another woman spewed as the bulldozer had the audacity to slow her from getting to her next ounce. I sympathized with her. I mean, it was fierce competition to get into line to get your ounce of blackberry zinfandel or apple merlot. In the time that the bulldozer was slowing her down, one or two people probably got into line before her. Worst of all, the festival only ran from 3:00 pm to 8:30 pm, so if she missed a moment, she might miss a few ounces.

We weren't the only ones with kids there, but perhaps they are right. We shouldn't expose our young impressionable girls to that kind of atmosphere. The might grow up to think that it is acceptable for their future husbands to wear short dress shorts and sport coats and drive little sports cars to wine festivals while their kids are home with the nanny.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

First Day of Pre-School

I guess this couldn't be a dad blog without the obligatory first day of school posting. Just like her mother, and nothing like me, the Tomboy was excited for school. The kind of excited that prompts her to ask about it everyday for the past two weeks.

"Daddy, do I have school next day?"
"No honey, not until next week."

"Daddy, do I have school today?"
"No, not until Monday."

The other problem is that the Bulldozer is quite attached to her sister and, as all siblings do, believes in the right of all little sisters to do everything their big sisters do.

Tomboy: "I'm going to school tomorrow!"
Bulldozer: "I go to schoo morrow! I go to schoo morrow!"

She has to carry her backpack too, and she seems fine until we get back to the van and she realizes that her sister is not there. It is then that she cries and asks where her sister is.

The big problem is me. I detested school and would do anything to get out of going, so I have a little anxiety over my kids going to school. We put the Tomboy in daycare for the first time when she was eight weeks old. Anyone who has done that knows how wrong it feels to leave your defenseless newborn child in the arms of strangers. Pre-school is not nearly as hard, but it still feels wrong to me. But I would do anything to get out of school.

I guess in my anxiety I didn't think about what moms do on their kid's first day of school. I was the only one who didn't have a camera. I felt like the guy who goes to a wedding in white socks because he forgot dress socks. I felt like they were all looking at me. "Where's his camera?" All the kids were posing with the teacher one by one while we all crowded around the door, waiting to get in. The Tomboy saved me, "Daddy, I don't want a picture."

"Okay, sweetie, no picture." And with that she hugged her teacher and walked into the room, no tears, not even a goodbye hug, she was just gone. The Bulldozer wasn't the only one who noticed her empty car seat.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Queen of Tattle Talia

My four year old, AKA the Precious Tomboy, has claimed a new title. She is officially the Queen of Tattle Talia. Her innate need and ability to tell on her little sister makes me wonder if her calling in life is to be hall monitor/police officer. As a parent, this presents a unique connundrum.

Con #1: It is annoying. It is incredibly annoying, and I find myself scolding her for telling on her sister.

"Daddy, the Bulldozer is looking at me and I don't like it."
"I'm sorry honey."
"She's still doing it."

Pro #1: It is helpful. Sometimes it is a lifesaver when the bulldozer is doing something potentially hazardous, harmful, or potentially life threatening.

"Daddy, the bulldozer is writing on the wall."
"Daddy, the bulldozer has scissors."
"Daddy, the bulldozer is standing on the table"

Con #2: It is really annoying. Super annoying. Match the need to tell on someone with a flare for being overdramatic and you have a problem. The precious part of the Tomboy refers partly to her extreme flare for the dramatic. If she doesn't think that I see the bulldozer push her or hit her, she acts as if she has been mortally wounded, but if I react quickly to reprimand the bulldozer for her transgressions, it is as if it never happened.

Con #3: The bulldozer is an instigator. At two years old, she already likes to get a reaction out of her sister. Mix that with the Tomboy's over dramatic reactions to things that happen without my knowledge and you have a problem. I am positive that she attacks her sister (yes, attack is the right word) when I am not looking to get a bigger reaction. I know that you are thinking, "Of course, she doesn't want to get caught", but my theory is that she does it to get a bigger reaction. She knows that the Tomboy screams louder when I am not looking.

Con #4: Guilt.

"Daddy, the Bulldozer scratched me boo hoo hoo."
"Is it really that bad?"
"It hurts Daddy."
"Should we go to the hospital?" Yes, I know, I shouldn't be sarcastic with my four year old daughter.
"Noooooo. But it hurts Daddy. Look." She points to three deep red lines on her arm that I know will scab later.
"I'm sorry honey." It is at this point that the bulldozer swaggers in and smiles at me and refuses to say sorry.

Con #5: It is incredibly aggravating.

"Daddy, the Bulldozer is going to tell on me!"

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Okay, I am officially not the Master of Naps

I spoke too soon. If you have read my previous posts would might have come across a blog posting that boasted of my absolute mastery of getting kids to take naps. I still follow all of my steps, but I might get one nap a week if I am lucky. Now I get an hour of listening to them play together and then I go into their room to find every toy, blanket, and pair of shoes that can possibly fit on the floor and two kids who are triumphant in their ability to wait me out.

A few days ago, the day we had been afraid of arrived. I put them in their room for a nap and returned an hour later to find chalk handprints all over the hallway walls and an empty crib. The Tomboy was surprised to see me.

"Where is the bulldozer?"
"She got out."
"I can see that. Where is she?" It was then that the two year old Bulldozer with chalked hands jumps out from the closet door and yells.
"I get out! I get out!"
"How did you get out." It was then that the Tomboy tries to climb over the railing of her sister's crib to show me.
"Like this Daddy."

In short, this posting is to officially relinquish my title of Master of Naps. Maybe I can be the Master of Putting Toy Story in the DVD player now.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Anyone for Leftovers?

There is a lot about being a stay at home parent that most people don't think about. Sure, when I tell people that I am a stay at home dad, most people say things like "I couldn't do it", or "Good for you", but I get the feeling that some of those people think that it wouldn't be that hard or that they wish that they had the means to stay home with their kids. I get that. I feel pretty lucky that I get to be with my girls for all of these important memories. But there are a few things that get old and stay old and never go away. Yes, laundry is harder because their clothes are miniature and hard to fold, but the biggest surprise to me as a stay at home dad was how much time I devote to feeding two kids that together weigh less than seventy pounds.

Breakfast can be easy if they aren't sick of Honeynut Cheerios or cinnamon waffles, but sometimes I make pancakes or eggs and that introduces the second problem with the feeding schedule--dishes. I want to go back to my college self and slap him silly for thinking that washing dishes was hard. I wash more dishes in one day than I did in a week when I was single. The sad thing is that my sink was always full of dirty dishes that I would clean when I needed them. If I let dishes pile up in the sink now, the whole house is paralyzed. When my wife and I were newly married, her grandparents came to see us and the dishes were my job then too. My wife was traumatized to find out that her grandmother did our dishes before she got home from work. I still think about that day when the dishes are piling up.

Lunch and dinner are infinitely harder on the feeding front. This introduces the third problem with feeding two small children--the waste. I feel terribly guilty about the sheer mass of food that I throw away on a regular basis. For a while I went the "Momnivore" route and tried to survive on the food that they didn't eat, but I felt like a vulture waiting for them to confirm that they were done eating, and we would very often have a meltdown from a child who was suddenly hungry for what I had just eaten. I also thought it would help me lose weight, but it had the opposite effect.

If we lived in the country I would get pigs and feed them solely on the food that my girls don't eat. Those would be some award winning pigs. I have also considered opening up a stand at a farmers market to sell the leftovers for compost or to some starving college student.

The only sure-fire thing that they will eat without complaint is macaroni and cheese, and lucky for me, they don't like the microwave variety--it has to be Kraft Three Cheese shells--Thanks to my wife, who likes it too. The pigs would have a great time with the green beans, apples, chicken nuggets, hot dogs, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, etc..., but they would have to do without macaroni and cheese.

This leads me to the really big problem with feeding two small children. It is demoralizing and painful (yes I am being overly dramatic) to spend a lot of time preparing a meal that you think is going to be a hit and be healthy, only to have your kids push it around on their plate and say that it smells funny or that they don't like it. With that in mind, Mom, I have to apologize. I am sorry for complaining about the Shake and Bake chicken, or the Old El Paso taco night. I am sorry for complaining that we had pork chops or orange roughy too often. I am sorry for every time that I ever turned my nose up to anything you cooked for me.