Posts Tagged ‘crazy’

Review Session

9 July 2011


Dear J-

The trip and contact with other kids makes me think that figgy is an unusual one. Her cousin asked at one point if she was always this loud. And later, if she was always this angry. There is some truth to those observations. I thought that she would grow out of it but as she grows I fear that these ways are becoming more engrained instead: the shouting, the commands, the imperious unflinching nature. These things that are admirable in leaders and statesmen are tough to deal with in a four-year-old body. I look back on the two days in Disney and found that we consulted the figgy oracle to the point of making deals and cajoling her through lines — the whole agenda was set on her stomach and desires.

You may perhaps rightly deride us as overly malleable parents who give in at the first sign of trouble seeking harmony above discipline. And maybe we have been at first but we keep hammering and believe it or not the unyielding stone keeps breaking tools: time-outs, rewards, taking toys away, everything short of corporal punishment. Is this really all we can do? I think the most important tools in the arsenal are patience and a short memory: be willing to keep applying and forget that you’ve done this before because if you stop to concentrate on it and believe it’s part of a recurring trend you’ll never bother to stop escalating.

At four she has a world that’s not yet fully formed. Yet reasons and consequences are starting to make easy appearances too: it gets easier. I would not trade this kid for the world, still. The changes she’s brought to our lives has been uniformly positive and amazing. We are all still learning, but at least we’re all learning together.



Cheese Challenge

3 April 2011



Dear J-

After breakfast this morning we brought the kids inside, Calcifer peacefully lulled to slumber through the magic of the two-ton rolling pacifier and figgy slightly hopped up on carbohydrates and syrup (Swedish pancakes and French toast: very Continental of her). So of course she pounces on him and shakes him awake despite us trying to pry them apart and she got a timeout early on today as a result. We’re learning that the threat of deprivation is effective only when cooupled with the ability to follow through: we can say that we’re going to cancel her birthday party to ensure compliance, for instance, but it’s not something we can really do.

After we got to our afternoon destination — we’d left ridiculously early which was then eaten up by inexplicable traffic through Camp Pendleton — we joined the chaos in progress at Chuck E Cheese. The setup reminded me of another party we had attended a few months ago — and she had tremendous fun there as she did today as well — but it was a place where the kids got to play not with each other but hitting up machines for tickets like the youngest Lotto players on earth. It’s still fun but I dunno, there’s a kind of convenience that doesn’t seem worth it. The kids kept coalescing and dispersing like ink in water; together to eat and sing a happy birthday then back out amongst the machines to harvest tickets.

We’ve been to more than a few birthday parties now and without fail it’s the ones where the parents spend more effort that hit the most highlights in my mind. Now that we’re faced with the prospect of hosting our first real social event since the time we got married I’m a little scared that we’re maybe not doing enough. It should be fine. Lord knows that the ultimate arbiters of taste — the kids — aren’t going to be too judgmental about the shindig so long as there’s activities, pizza, and cake. And if the excited screams usually terminating in a semi-slurred “ChuggaCheese” coming from her room are any indication it really doesn’t matter if she plays with friends or by herself. There’s more than enough time to be alone though and plays well with others is definitely a skill to be cultivated.


Three Status

21 March 2011


Dear J-

There’s a short list of things I’ve learned not to get too comfortable around: sharks, killer whales, elephants, ostriches, running cars, and high-velocity games. Add to that children, television watching, and sugar. The weekend offers so many lessons that it’s hard to know where to start. For those of you who can’t wait until your kids are old enough tp come run and join you in bed on the weekends you must have well_behaved kids who nestle quietly in the warm spot between you for some well-deserved cuddle time. On the other hand there’s figgy and the pro-wrestling moves she adopts to get us going iln the mornings.

When she is sleepy she grows properly lethargic, but when she’s really sleepy she gets hyper — that’s our sign that a proper impending crash is coming, and we’d do well to let it run its destructive course, picking up the pieces later is much easier. The truth is that sometimes I’m at a loss to explain the force of nature she becomes, hurricane figgy, prone to destruction and benevolence, often in the space of a few sentences. Then again she is nigh-four and that accounts for a lot of it. You know how they talk about the terrible twos? For us it’s been a little more like threes as well, though not so much terrible as let’s say outspoken and confident. But what charms at two wears by five, so of course things can’t continue this way forever.

She has her own way of handling things. We hear our own words of frustration creeping out in her voice when there’s something we haven’t done to her satisfaction. Any real boss would be laughed out given the demands her Imperial Majesty gives but we do it with good humor because she has us laughing helplessly the next minute, something impossibly precocious (she has started singing pop songs using her curreny vocabulary, and has somehow figured out the big dog isn’t coming back soon) or misunderstood (I can take my brother out for a walk, right?) making all the difference in the day. She is crazy, as all three-not-quite-four year olds are and I love her.


P.S. I came home today and theVet told me she’d earned two timeouts today, one for not listening, and one for painting the chair with cheese. Apparently she was not as hungry as advertised.

Fever Dream

5 November 2010

Dear J-

figgy runs hot at the best of times, and so the last few warm days (into the 90s for San Diego) have been tough on her; it’s strange to think about summer weather in November, but I suppose it’s no different than any year: last Halloween we worried that the cow costume was too hot. This year the late-season heat has arrived, as it always does, with explosive dryness. Walk outside and you can feel your skin contract in mympathy for the parched earth; for a place that was complaining about the brief rains just weeks ago, no one seems to mind the oppressive heat.

At night we switch between covers on and covers off; figgy thrashes to the point where any blanket smaller than the bed inevitably finds its way down to the ground or the foot of the bed. Even that’s a delicate balance: you need something to keep from taking too great a chill, but not so much that you wake up dehydrated and damp. She sleeps soundly except on nights like these, when the heat combines with her burning core to force her slightly awake, just enough to stay incoherently distraught, inconsolably uncomfortable.

Late nights and false dramas litter the evenings lately; don’t want this, want that, no and yes, now but not later and immediately. It’s as though the heat has burned all our fuses short; four thousand different things suddenly become intolerable simultaneously and individually. So help me,k don’t push me, let’s do this now, and the ever-popular what do you want hit a reflection; we talk past each other, we yell and pout, we can’t seem to get anything done until the switch is thrown and awake becomes asleep, the heat is banked for the night awaiting the inevitbale stoking of blast-furnace burning through our lives.


Peas Porridge

30 August 2010

Dear J-

It seems as though I’ve hit a bit of a lull at work; I come home not really remembering what I did, other than that I was busy all day with something or another.  Class tonight was a series of episodes punctuated by Ben’s increasingly desperate attempts to keep me awake.  I’m not sure if it was the subject matter or class fatigue or just plain old tired-of-being-awake, but toward the end of the evening I perked up a little and we were able to make a little more headway.

On the other hand, it seems like I’m turning into a bit of a night owl, what with trying to work on homework sets until late into the night (relatively late, I should qualify:  it’s not like I’m sitting there until small hours of the morning, but I am getting into that false bravado of sleep being for the weak again, something that hadn’t cropped up until I was mostly punch-drunk on too many late nights spent in the study room out at Ridge House) and getting figgy off to bed late again, as usual.  You make your own free time with your choices.  I just either haven’t been too choosy lately, or perhaps exceptionally unlucky.

When I was young I used to lug around my parents’ tape recorder in an effort to both document our lives and provide commentary on the social mores from a kid’s perspective (in my world, CBS News was full of anchors kissing each other; this in the days before integrated casts, no less).  I’m pretty sure my parents thought I was just as crazy as I think figgy is at times.  I guess the crazy never really goes away — nor does it improve; you just crash through the highs and lows and surf along the waves as you need to.


Change Agent

19 May 2010

Dear J-

One day maybe a year and a half ago, I brought home a pizza from a local shop and, having dropped by the grocery store next door, a pumpkin pie as well. The pizza was great (we’ve since moved on to a different pizzeria, but more for geographical convenience, not for any specific complaint with that pie’s quality), and the pumpkin pie was tasy enough, but with no added sugar. Instead, they sweetened it with maltitol, a word I have come to regard with suspicion and dread: upon consuming a small piece, figgy became uncontrollably and (so we thought) uncharacteristically crazy. Now it seems as though she’s got a secret stash of maltitol that she dips into when we’re not looking.

We wrapped up two days of training on peer mentoring today; it was as though they were able to distill some of the essence of the Leadership Academy into a concentrated form. Change is coming — scratch that, change is HERE — and it’s energizing to know that we’re moving forward. There are days that it feels like the same old issues keep cropping up, and then you realize that all around, all along, you just haven’t been noticing the accumulated shift. The new normal sneaks up on all of us; you might have had a preview or two here or there, but it’s like waking up after twenty years.

I ran into someone from my newhire classes today; not only is he married now, he’s about to become a father. When we were starting out together, could we have seen where we’d be not even halfway through 2010? If this is indeed the Year We Make Contact (Roy Schieder, “All these worlds are yours except Europa” — such are the random travels of my mind), it’s about time to snap out of my shell and realize that we bring the changes about through our relationships and trust. How much influence do we really have in our lives? Quoth McCartney: the love you take is equal to the love you make.


Today Tonight

10 April 2010

Dear J-

Saturdays are busy days; between the little bit of cleaning that I manage to do (vacuuming, which in the figgy era has turned into a hour-long misadventure of hiding and seeking with a long, loud denoument) and some small outing — we’ve just lately headed out to do a little shopping, which generally consists of shooing her away from various fragile displays and expensive toddler-level (seriously, couldn’t they relocate these things?) shelves. Do you ever pause somewhere along the way and wonder what else the day might bring?

Just today the fascination has been in providing herself impromptu (yet thankfully at-home) gynecological examinations; last week it was throwing things, so we are making some kind of progress. I still remember going to visit a friend and being surprised by their younger brother running around the house sans pants — we’re past the point of being able to wrestle her into clothes on a regular basis, and it’s just easier. That’s the real reason we never have people over, right?

I’m looking forward to seeing what next week brings; they keep telling me that this is a fun time, as she hasn’t completely gone to full disrespect and disobedience. Yet after flipping her dinner over, she was completely contrite and distraught, asking for more — discipline isn’t an easy thing to maintain in the face of hysterical tears. After no nap and an irregular Saturday schedule, we’re all ready to relax into jelly. That’s enough for today.


Baby Compare

8 March 2010

Dear J-

The rain swept in a few times today; I had another follow-up appointment with the doctor, so I took the remainder of the day off. It’s been three weeks since the surgery and things are more or less back to normal (with any luck, the teeming legions of medical professionals lined up to touch my junk has come to a close). I’m going to try riding the bike again tomorrow, knowing that it’s been too long, weather permitting. We went to the Zoo again today as another sign of falling back into the same old routine; my arms hardly remembered the burden of camera and figgy together, but the familiar rhythms keep us moving forward.

At the Zoo the meerkat pups had emerged from the burrow and were taking their tenative steps under wary eyes. There are times that we happen to see other kids out with their parents; they are quiescent little boys and girls that obediently (perhaps only in comparison) sit up and take direction. On the other hand, figgy has her own mind on things, giving us directions and admonishing us:

Mike: To the restaurant Noodles!

figgy: Don’t say that, Daddy.

Mike: Noodles!

figgy: Don’t call me Mike. Call me figgy, okay?

I would not trade my crazy daughter who apparently cannot walk when there are willing parent arms around for an army of straight-arrow kids who smile and nod at every command and wish. She brings a kind of creative anarchy into our lives, one that I suspect every two-and-three-quarter year old brings to their parents’ lives and ours are richer for it. We have as many screaming fits as uncontrollable laughter but each peal is rich reward for every point of blood pressure. It’s more than I could have dreamed.


90th Percentile

12 October 2009

Dear J-

One of the terms you keep hearing as a parent is percentiles — the first twelve months is spent shuttling back and forth to the doctor for regular checkups and vaccines; the child is measured and charted against peers and the sizes (head girth, height, and weight) are dutifully reported. figgy’s been a 50th percentile kid where most of the other babies we know seem to have been 0th or 90th percentile kids — towering giants of 12 month olds or teeny little 3 year olds. As we sit at nifty fifty, some times we wonder if everything else is just as normal as size.

Because the weather was cool enough, we went to the Wild Animal Park today — the WAP is infamous for being the place where high temperature records go to die; we were there last year on Labor Day and ended up sweating our way across the park; with the day off it made perfect sense to head out for a long walk and questionable food. Last time we had a backpack and carried her when she got sleepy; this time, knowing that neither backpack nor stroller was an option, we spent a fair amount of time stooping and scooping up to the point where she’d wriggle out and run off, often in the opposite direction we intended to go.

Decisions 2834 -sm

In fact, on the bus tour today, we spent part of the ride restraining her from kicking other people (we got a rear-facing seat) unintentionally as she squirmed around, ever-antsy and only peripherally interested in the antics of the various animals we encountered, including two of only eight Northern White Rhinoceroses in the world — you can’t explain why she should pay attention. We also spent some time watching other kids, though; either we have no control over figgy, or most parents have much less crazy kids. Perhaps that’s what we’ve been looking for as the 90th percentile — if every child is unique, figgy’s niche in the world is her exuberant nature; life with her has been a battle of wills and an amazing journey I wake up excited to continue on daily.


figgy World

17 May 2009

Dear J-

We’re in the process of scientific observation — the initial hypothesis has been confirmed; we just need to determine the degree and recommended actions now. Today, I was able to confirm that figgy is indeed more exuberant than most, having cowed a small crowd (okay, two) of toddlers into stunned silence at the otter tank. One of them, on seeing the otter swim by, breathed, “Wow, bubbles!” Not to be outdone, figgy bellowed “(H)Otters! NO BUBBLES!” Sensitive, that girl.

Audience Height 2540 -sm

We’ve transitioned from two naps to one to, apparently, none, unless lulled to sleep by a steady car ride (and even that is turning unreliable day by day), and still, the energy level has not dropped perceptibly. Perhaps there is some sort of activity vampirism at work here; the more she does, the more naps we end up needing to take (unless we sleep in shifts, that is). What it does is make the naps she does manage precious beyond all measure; knowing that the slightest motion to take her out of the car and lay her in the crib will be completely counterproductive, we resort to seemingly extravagant measures to ensure that she stays cool.

Extra Measures 2494 -sm

We’d just begun to get the hang of the way things were going but there’s always new challenges; unlike work, where things keep boiling down to the same issues, it’s hard to make the same mistakes twice because nothing ever seems to work twice. The same foods she joyously ate yesterday will be refused today; different books for bedtime, arrangements just-so as needed when appropriate — stack things here, move things there, and always, always keep exploring. The world is fresh in her eyes — every day — and I’m lucky enough to catch a glimpse now and then.