Archive for the ‘figgy’ Category

bossy girls

24 May 2011

This note from theVet:

So I dropped off figgy this morning and her friend S_____ told her (as she does every morning), “Now, say goodbye to Calcifer.”

Ms. Vanessa put some red plastic charts on the table and two other girls come up to inspect them. figgy tells them (in a very bossy tone), “Don’t touch! We don’t do that, right S_____?”

S_____’s like, “Yeah!”

It’s scary how alike they are. I think I’m going to start calling them the “bossy posse” 😉

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Honest Company

15 January 2011

Dear J-

It’s clear that our daughter has a busier social life than us, and we’re happy to follow in her wake.  In an awkward twist on a classic, instead of a kids’ table they have parents’ tables at these birthday parties where you try to make small talk and exchange pleasantries with other parents you may not see again for months.  The last couple have been particularly easy for me as I’ve insisted on strapping Calcifer to my front, acting both as barrier and conversation piece:  yes, so new, so new that I don’t want to wake him up, moving along at a joggling pace as the other parents give me knowing looks.

I think part of the imbalance is the schedule we keep:  today, after waking up, breakfast, and vacuuming, we went to the bike shop (I got a replacement stem but not the expertise or tools to fix it) and library (Calcifer asleep this time meant I got to stock up on books), then back for a quick pit stop before heading out for lunch (both kids conked out on the way over, making it an amazingly quiet meal … until figgy woke up) and then over to the party and finally back home in time to walk Oliver and get ready for bed so we can do it all over again tomorrow.  I’m not complaining, mind you — even when we did have the time we spent it by ourselves.

We just have better excuses now.  One of theVet’s friends is getting married soon and there’s a steady drumbeat of anti-child sentiment.  Kids aren’t allowed at the shower (understandable) or at the wedding (bizarre) so we’ll be able to send theVet to one but not the other.  I can see the reason but not the results:  a staid affair attended by adults.  Every wedding I’ve been to has been better with kids, and I find myself seeking out their honest company at parties of all kinds.

Mike

New Year

31 December 2010

Dear J-

Yesterday I picked up figgy from daycare for the week, meaning that we take home laundry and completed art projects. Part of the activities yesterday was some sort of New Year’s Parade where the kids must have marched around the playground in the finery they got to take home — in figgy’s case, a glitter tiara and tinsel necklace. That was waiting in easy reach when I got there, and she grabbed them for immediate showing off, but she then continued to point at what they call the Parent Pocket, where important letters and other things to keep out of the reach of children are stashed. I pulled a party horn out and immediately grasped the significance: no other kid had a horn, and no other horns were in the Pockets. As we’re walking out another kid says to us “Wow, you got one that makes noise,” which figgy promptly demonstrated, sounding a note halfway between vuvuzela and dead cat.

Man they hate us. We heard that horn at random intervals last night and periodically throughout the day today.

theVet told me a story yesterday too, where she went shopping at our local mall with Calcifer, having to duck into the Nordstrom’s for a quick feeding and running into other moms-with-small-fry. Said kids were misbehaving and so when privileges were revoked, protested with reproachful looks and quiet words: “But I want to go to the bounce house/to have some candy/to look for toys/etc.” The moms were firm, the children relented, and benefits were restored. Are we therefore doing something wrong, to have grand mal tantrums for the slightest offense or contradiction to figgy’s ways? theVet related these stories in a wondering tone, as though this was the norm for the rest of the world and what we’ve gotten accustomed to — volume carrying the weight of authority and truth — the aberration.

I know that you’re supposed to spend the last week of the year cruising and looking back, reflecting on all the events of the year past — just a few minutes left to run in 2010, who could have anticipated this — but it’s a bit of a conceit that any events would be worthy of celebration anyway. Instead what else is going on right now? Like the past few nights I’m strapped to Calcifer as he settles in for the night (the Baby Björn is by far his third most favorite thing in the world, after mom and milk), looking forward to lying down and knowing I’m not there quite yet, but soon the change in shift will happen and theVet will get up to feed him while I lie down gratefully, exhausted.  Every day is a full day lately, some more than others.

They say that you can’t pick your family but they’re wrong; sure, you can’t pick the family you’re born into, but when it comes time to choose who you’re going to be spending time with — and really, isn’t that a truer definition of family — by the time you’re out of your parents’ house you’re hanging out with people you like and want to hang out with*.  For how prone I am to fits of anger and impatience theVet is there to step in and make us keep our distance, figgy and I, wary cats eying each other for weaknesses in will and stubborn fight until we’re over it.  And though the storms are passing showers, not prolonged monsoons, their brief intensity is enough to spoil hours of quiet togetherness were it not for theVet’s moderating influence.

What we take for granted is often what we miss first if it goes away.  In the dark, with this occasionally screaming demon** I know that it’s not forever.  Yet the crying is enough to drive rational thought away unless cooler heads prevail.  It’s still 2010, and I know how incredibly lucky I am, I’ve been this year — this now is all I need to know, all that needs to happen in 2011 for me to be just as rich and fortunate.

Mike

* This does not apply to junior high school, unfortunately.

** Not his fault:  Calcifer’s hitting the six-week growth spurt right on time, which is leading to impossibly small clothes (which he was just swimming in a few weeks ago, wasn’t he?) and short tempers from all.

Love Life

18 November 2010

Dear J-

So, best laid plans and all that:  figgy broke with a little diarrhea this morning, which immediately disqualified her from daycare, and thus we ended up making an emergency shopping trip to Target for some toys to keep her busy today.  And the winner of that particular derby was not the snap-together beads nor the spiny blocks.  Nope — it was the cheap markers and Hello Kitty notebooks we picked up from the dollar aisle that held her attention best, better than a new brother, better than grandma and grandpa, better than TV.  Well, not better than TV.

The big news of the day is therefore Calcifer, who weighs in at 6 pounds, 11 ounces and 19 inches long.  There were times today I wanted to divide myself in two; you’re only allowed one other person in the operating room besides the mom, and so I had to abandon figgy to her grandparents for the half hour or so it took to perform the birth rituals:  no slapping bottoms, but cord cutting, putting the baby on mom’s chest, etc.  Even now I’m stuck thinking I should be back in the hospital, helping out but I suppose that being with figgy is what I (and she) needs.  The memories from three and a half years ago kept flooding back, from the deep newborn outrage to what I think were the same nurses telling the same jokes.  There are some advantages to being consistent:  I remembered everything I really needed to, but with the added wrinkle of having figgy along, everything was new again.

We hadn’t planned on having figgy around during the birth — pick her up a little early from daycare and go see mom and brother perhaps — but it worked out perfectly as I thought it might in the end:  the process is a little less mystifying, and she’s comfortable with the hospital, more or less, making free with the nurses and taking outrageous advantage of her innocent looks.  It’s better this way even though it’s been the longest day, filled with worry and anticipation, struggle and chaos, but mostly life and love.

Mike

Saturday Night

2 October 2010

Dear J-

So today was the big test — well, not that big test, but a personal one:  we took figgy up to her aunt’s house to spend the night with her cousin.  As we were sitting down to dinner, we got a call where figgy was being obviously brave and saying all kinds of good things and then, as the phone was passed to me, abrupt silence, followed by the wail of understanding — they’re not coming back tonight, and all those things we’ve threatened her with (“Well, we’ll just go home then” and “We’re going to leave without you”) have come true.

We’re doing it in preparation for the Next One.  When he arrives there’s no telling what kind of hospital stay we’re in for, so it’s a test run to see if she’s able to stay with others while we wrestle with sleep deprivation those first few nights.  I’m almost familiar with how it goes, but I’m also looking forward to the refresher course.  I suspect it’s almost like falling off a bike — you never quite forget how it goes, but it’s not usually as bad as you remember.

So far the night’s been unusually quiet.  Somewhere we’ve brewed up a witch’s concoction in her tummy of rice noodles, coconut, shrimp, and popcorn that’s induced her to vomit (we called again a couple of hours ago, and were told that she’d sacked out in front of the TV after fussing, puking, and then saddening ever so gradually.  It’s hard on her, sure, but it’s at least as hard on us to have the usual routine disrupted, the cries in the night not ringing out for us to help, help.

Mike

Fun House

29 August 2010

Dear J-

figgy keeps telling us different things that make varying degrees of sense, though lately she’s started to make a lot more of it.  She has insisted that she feels sick and almost as if to prove it, she has taken long naps today — in the stroller, in the car, at home — and woken up crabby from each one.  This, from the same girl who kept telling us that she lost things “in the spiderwebs” a few months ago, is another long step towards the person she’ll be.

She’s almost independent on many tasks; she’s watched us fiddle with the DVD enough that she can usually put discs in and take them out without too many fingerprints.  With the exception of the shirt, she can dress herself in the mornings (the trick there is to figure out which hole is for the head).  I’d never have anticipate that she’s getting this independent this quickly, even though I’ve been muttering it under my breath for what seems like years.

Babies are fun:  everything in the world is new to them, and they delight, consequently, in everything.  Lots of first-time opportunities abound, and the thrill of discovery is matched by the amazement on their faces when something unexpected happens.  Here’s something else that’s unexpected:  little jaded three-year-olds are more fun.  The world-weary sighs are echoes of your own breath and word; be wary of what you say.

Mike

Pattern Dance

22 August 2010

Dear J-

figgy has a sleep schedule which must be maintained at all costs:  generally speaking, bed by ten and up around eight or so with the added bonus of a multi-hour mid-day nap.  Were I smart enough to remember the lessons of three years ago, I’d have napped when she naps in order to ensure unbroken rest.  Nowadays, of course, we just take stuff like that for granted, like not having her in diapers when she’s awake.

Any breakdowns in the schedule used to guarantee an interrupted night for us, but like everything else, we’ve all learned to be flexible lately.  Me, running on fumes at this point of the night; her, going strong despite expending roughly four times the energy (that’s my best guess, as her philosophy has been why walk when you could run, or whisper when exclamation points say it better).  Nap time is magic, man.

It’s funny, the difference between review class and assigned homework.  Once I think I’ve got a concept down well enough from class along comes the homework set where an entirely different set of principles and equations get emphasized (the first few problems I have to figure out how the author likes to see things, but after that the questions become easier, as there are only a few equations per chapter that get drilled over and over again).  Likewise figgy:  at first glance, she’s got a million things and activities, but there are crystalline patterns and favorite objects; it all makes sense with time.  Habits emerge, rituals observed.

Mike

Timeshare Opportunity

21 August 2010

Dear J-

theVet is out of town this weekend and so my first day with figgy has been mostly successful — occasionally frustating, when the burden of communication has become insurmountable, or when neither of us choses to listen (we yell at each other quite ineffectively, as volume never manages to make the arguments any more convincing; you’d think I’d have learned that lesson after thirty-five years).  There have been great highs and lows today.  It is the roller coaster of childhood.

At one point I was convinced that she had broken the fan we use to move air around the house on hot nights and days like today:  figgy was slowly feeding the string of a balloon into the guard, which I stopped as soon as I saw it — but then, as I was kicking the balloon out of the way, the suction from the fan ingested the string anyway and popped it.  Seriously, it’s not like she wanted to did it with malicious intent — it’s one of those things that you do as a kid (for me it was pouring milk into the garbage to see what a stink it would make after a few days) but I read motive into it anyway and reacted accordingly.

It’s tempting for me, in light of the novel I just read (The Final Reflection, John M. Ford) to think in terms of passion and reason, logic and emotion:  Star Trek words for essential, inseparable parts of our whole selves.  But it’s equally misleading to think that we should let one side run loose all the time, neither dispassionate nor frothing shall we be.  If you say that today was full of opportunities, so will tomorrow be, and a chance to better the score, too.

Mike

Sam I Was

25 July 2010

Dear J-

I feel a little like the unnamed participant with Sam-I-am:  I do like hanging out with kids, I do like birthday parties.  I do so like them.  All those years of trauma over missing out on the rabbits and balloons at other kids parties growing up?  The unnamed dread of hanging out with strangers?  You do as much as you care to, and show off a little of yourself in the process.

It helps, of course, that three-year-olds are the least self-conscious people on the planet.  They connect straight from thought to action without filtering (this is what parents are for, after all:  pulling aside and admonishing with shocked whispers when all you hear is the echo of your words, sadly).  The small tragedies of growing up include donning that final mask that lets your lips lie to your heart.

We’ll have opportunities to host our own and mix family with friends and peers; we’ll probably throw awkward moments in too, but I really enjoyed watching the social structure of kids united.  The baby stuff is fun, and we’ll have our chance to wallow in that later this year, but for now it’s still fascinating (educating!) to watch that process of growing up again.

Mike

Birthday Party

23 July 2010

Dear J-

figgy got her first invitation to a birthday party today — stuck on the bottom of the envelope was a little apologetic note saying sorry for the late notice, as the party’s this Sunday.  Price of admission is a gift, I presume, and a phone call to save a spot.  Of course, there’s the bit in my head screaming what a slippery slope it may be:  if they do this this year, what will we want next year?

It’s way too soon to worry about that, and even sooner to be projecting all my agoraphobic/antagonistic fears and repressed memories of birthday parties in my past.  Funny that, when I’ve gone, I’ve always enjoyed them, but it was the lead-in built-up anxieties that kept me out of most.  Perhaps I suspected that the invitations were courtesies not to be taken seriously:  well, we had to invite the whole class, but we didn’t mean for you to show up.

It’s the paranoia:  suspect the worst motives, not the best intentions.  It whispers and gibbers in my ear at night.  And then I listen to what figgy keeps singing late into the night; every night the same routine of calling us back into the room until we’re all tired of it — but it’s not malicious on her part, and it’s not exasperated on ours; every day brings new frontiers of independence, and every night the borders shrink slightly — but only just, never more than they’ve been pushed under the sun.

Mike