Posts Tagged ‘figgy’

Natural History

4 July 2011

image

Dear J-

We have a thousand different choices to head out to in San Diego on the weekends but we don’t often take advantage of the Natural History Museum (in their current faddish rename, theNAT) which used to be home to a few moth-eaten stuffed animals and perpetual showings of Ocean Oasis, but which has successfully made the transition to a semi-big-time show — not New York or Chicago’s Field Museum but pretty decent value for the money.

We had a membership but swore off it after they brought some extra-cost shows like Vesuvius (to be honest that wasn’t their problem but ours: figgy kept crying through that exhibit) and Body Worlds (we would have had to pay for therapy after that one, so no thanks). They must have raised enough money to renovate and expand because now all four floors are open and there’s rotating exhibits through the space on the second floor that used to be filled with charred logs. That one in particular piqued figgy’s interest today; for every time she dragged us upstairs to toboggan down a plastic slide or play “the chick game” (grabbing fish through a touch surface) for penguins I could have alternately cursed and praised their brilliant insight into the obsessive four-year-old mind.

Find something that works for you and if it happens to have free A/C so much the better. For a Fourth of July it was a surprisingly quiet day whereever we went from museum to restaurant to traffic. Dinosaurs and pendulums and penguins and polar bears kept the mainspring wound tight and running all day long until we got into the car four hours later and both kids crashed. That in and of itself was a small miracle. From this I learn that we should mix in new places carefully. Did we know it would go over well? Luck counts for lots.

Mike

Advertisement

Under Cover

25 June 2011

image

Dear J-

Calcifer continues his growth at a fairly normal rate. The kid would rather try to stand than crawl and prefers rolling as a means of getting around which is how I suspect he ended up underneath the crib earlier today. It jives with what I remember of figgy’s development — not a lot of crawling but eventually up and standing without too much trouble around twelve months. What he’s actually doing under the crib is anyone’s guess but I’d say he’s not too worried about where as he is over being abandoned. Being the younger relatively immobile member of the pair means that we can take a little shortcut and leave him to his own devices for at least a little while.

All that is poised to change before long. Given our relatively advanced ages and prior issues this is likely it for us and two really is plenty to handle. The number of seats in the car is no reason to keep going, right? I may be fooled by how easy it seems this second time around: weekends have definitely been more hectic trying to fit around two kids’ schedules and I’m generally not privy to the secret world of the weekdays so that’s something I can’t say would be any different with more. I selfishly like the idea of a little mob of kids running around when if figgy’s any indication, we’ll already have two full-time hooligans on our hands before long.

Don’t let the innocent expression fool you. He’s already looking for ways to get away.

Mike

Ebb and Flow

2 June 2011

image

Dear J-

The next trip is in a few days and I’m finding it hard to muster up any serious enthusiasm for it as it’s to a part of the country that still frightens me irrationally and the timing seems all off: we have a couple of birthday parties to attend on Saturday before I head out on Sunday, and I also particularly hate giving up a weekend day in favor of travel without any makeup. Truth is that I’ve treated the trip as a good excuse to get some toys that I suspect will be put away until the next time we end up on the road (which this year is actually turning out to be fairly often, so we’re good for now).

I sometimes feel like we’ve adopted an over-distant approach with figgy. A couple of nights ago our neighbor came over about some vet business and spent maybe half a minute of focused attention on her, introducing himself and talking about his animals. She was entranced. All night last night she only spoke in reverent whispers as he promised he’d be back again to talk with theVet. It reinforces. The notion that attention is a kind of currency and that I get to go away for a week both frightens and encourages me when it comes to how figgy is developing. On the one hand you have the tyranny of the familiar: she expects the attention and knows it, often taking your presence for granted.

On the other by going away I break that for-granted chain but I also lose sight of her as she keeps changing so fast. One of our regional wetlands has been restored in the past few years — it’s a project that I’ve followed from my passenger-seat window — and now in the mornings if the conditions are right you’ll get a low-hanging bank of fog glowing in the sunrise where before it was just another dried-out field. The transformation was fast but if you consider that we only really have figgy for eighteen years — and probably less, in fact — for us to mold and that a quarter of that time is nearly gone it feels like a sprint sometimes: you have to fool yourself into believing that you can keep up.

Mike

Special Monday

30 May 2011

image

Dear J-

I could have gone in to work today, pulled down double time (holiday and regular time at least) and done something that would be no doubt as pointless as any of the work I feel like I’ve been doing lately. I would have spent probably two hours on the road on top of whatever hours I sank into work, spent roughly ten bucks on gas, but I would have come out a few hundred dollars ahead and you never know what will happen, that would have been something to feather the nest with, sock away against a rainy day. We could have treated it just like any other Monday and not said anything different.

I took the time off. I won’t apologize for spending a few extra days off doing the mundane work of Mondays with family, grocery shopping and finding entertainment for kids and parents alike. This is a side of life I don’t often glimpse, spending time and money in unexpected treats and places, the regimented routine immediately disturbed just by the unexpected fact that dad is around and watching. What’s better is knowing how nice it turned out to be today, and how you would have otherwise spent it inside away from the daylight apart from everything you believe in while slaving away for a few bucks more.

They say that time is money and maybe five years ago before kids I would have thought why not and gone in anyway. I need to get up early most days anyway and I might as well stay on the regular five-a-week right? There is a lot of truth to that old aphorism but they don’t tell you what you can buy with those bucks: memories, days, dreams, delights, desserts. Drive slowly enough and you’ll find more delights than you’d believe possible.

Mike

Dietary Travels

29 May 2011

image

Dear J-

We are fairly well-traveled gastrically, from French Toast to falafel and soup to sushi today (breakfast at a diner, lunch at a food festival, and dinner was Japanese take-out) yet it doesn’t seem to translate to figgy’s palate yet. If it’s not primarily rice or pasta then it should be meat. Broccoli frightens her. Dessert is not an optional extra — it’s a prerequisite for continued good behavior. The longer it goes on the more you worry about if it’s maybe a sign of a larger failure on our part — the spoilage has reached epic heights and we’re headed for some kind of future disaster, as though the tantrums and pleadings aren’t enough.

After four years with the kid we’ve got a pretty good lead on how she works. If angry, check if hungry. If dancing join in unless it’s secretly a sign that she needs to use the restroom. Face facts: the things we choose each weekend isn’t going to be the most fascinating thing for her though we have made an effort to make sure there’s something that she’ll enjoy — today at the festival we watched Latin dances while building up an appetite and when the crabbiness got the better of her and us we fought more crowds for position on the lawn by the food booths. This much I will say: when you advertise and hold it with free admission, do prepare for crowds.

She’ll be all right. We are doing our part to make sure she behaves considerately in public. At the moment that consists of setting a good example and various. However it turns out it isn’t the public face we need to keep track of — there is an almost crippling muteness that descends in the company of strangers and a kind of charming helplessness. It’s once she’s comfortable that you have to watch out for her actions. Be warned.

Mike

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” 😉

One World

22 May 2011

image

Dear J-

On a lark we headed off to the Maritime Museum today — like Battleship Cove it’s a collection of museum ships but not all warships — there’s a merchant sailing ship (Star of India) and a ex-Bay Area ferry, the Berkeley, for starters — which made it the perfect day for Pirate’s Day at the museum. figgy is a yo ho yo ho a Pirate’s life for me kind of girl so of course we got there and had to get all the pirate swag we could get our hands on; the candy and snacks were consumed within the hour and the rest of the goods were worn or tried on soon thereafter.

In one interesting episode I brought her to the gift shop where she picked out an eyepatch and reasoned out a way to get what she wanted. In my experience you save the gift shop for last so you can bring a souvenir home. In her four-year-old mind she took that to mean that if you leave you can buy it so she declared it was time to go home. No, really. Right then. The end result was agreeing to get it right then but only the one thing and we didn’t have to go home — we could keep going through the other ships too. Fear for our figgy-dominated future. Fear for our lives that will end up waiting on her hand and foot.

We ate lunch well after we should have — the general shortness and refusal to follow instructions mean that either sleep or food has run low and we have been remiss in addressing it. Afterwards, when we were all separately convinced that we should have ordered something else (I had the fish and chips which were a bit greasy, theVet had shrimp which could have stood less breading, and figgy had chicken strips which went completely ignored) we had the best part: dessert. As previously noted she has quite enough observation to know what she wants and find some charming way to ask. The blue flavor was soon served and savored and we have but to follow now.

Mike

Rapture

21 May 2011

image

Dear J-

I suppose that rapture is one of those things you can’t really prepare for: if you’re ready for it and it doesn’t end up happening then it’s probaly not going to happen for you — after all you can’t be so arrogant as to believe you will. You just have to hope, after all. I wasn’t sure if six PM was a matter of your local time or GMT — it doesn’t always make sense for the higher powers to work on your schedule. The right way to live in order to ascend when the time comes is no doubt laid out in religious texts but there’s no guarantees and that strikes me as an engineer as being too inexact. You’ll know you were right when the time comes but until then you have to take it on faith. That’s powerful stuff.

Faith means different things to different people. I take it to mean believing things will turn out as you hope and that’s not enough all the time. Predestination precludes faith, doesn’t it? If you think that you can do all the right things and still get the wrong outcome then what was the use of the faith? Job outlines the requirements of the patient sufferers who have the belief that their struggles do not go unnoticed, their sacrifices not rewarded. I like that idea — yet I can’t believe in it. Call it cynicism or a disturbing lack of faith but it seems too convenient to say that because I don’t believe — secretly or wholeheartedly believe — that’s why it never happens for me.

Besides which I have enough miracles in my life as it is. I strolled them both to the library and that was pretty inpossible to even consider a few months ago. With Calcifer starting in on solid foods and figgy being mostly content to spend time together without too many demands (she can’t be that incredibly demanding for a four-year-old, can she?) we are able to hang together without too much fuss. Faith also means relying on the family to get the right things done and that’s something I can get wholeheartedly behind.

Mike

Queue Quota

15 May 2011

image

image

Dear J-

If you go to many of these tourist attractions you’ll soon grow to dread the lines and the testing of wills and patience. After a few times through the lines you find out what kind of person the kids are made of: are they stoic sufferers, voluble complainers, comic geniuses, or some kind of sociopath? The longer the line the better an opportunity. No one likes having to wait but is there anything you can change about it? Think about the difference between action and reaction. We can coach and cajole but there’s only so much learned personality you’ve developed at four and if it’s not happening right now, figgy’s not going to listen to your rational explanations in lieu of wish fulfillment.

She passed by the carousel initially and said she wasn’t interested but as the day wore on we kept circling back in decaying orbits until she declared that she just wanted to watch. Watching turns into wanting and two minutes (and two bucks) later she’s on a zebra ready to ride in circles. Glad times indeed; after a day that starts off extra-early thanks to Calcifer’s inconsolable fuss, she finally brightens the day with a smile and the sun comes out after a brief drizzle. Longer days lie ahead and more dramatic lines — we plan on hitting up the big theme parks in SoCal later this year — so the lessons won’t go unlearned.

We had a recurring zebra theme today in fact. The moment we walked in we watched a show put on by an animated zebra who explained that zebras were black with white stripes — you can tell because the nose is black. After she rode the zebra we got back in line for the tram to see more ill-tempered beasts (cape buffalo and zebra outside, figgy within) and eventually we came upon a baby zebra lying at its mother’s feet, either too tired or not able to stand, and it reminded me that no matter the sophistication of her speech or the depths of her tantrums she’s four and it’s too easy to start concentrating on the black and white of actions leading to consequences leading to reactions leading to escalations. Gotta nip that in the bud.

Mike

Happy Birthday

6 May 2011

image

image

Dear J-

I have my doubts about my utility at home watching Calcifer today — he took naps for 90% of the time theVet was at work and thus my main contribution was stuffing the unholy concoction of rice cereal, formula, and strained prunes down his maw. That’s actually not too hard if you’re not too concerned with keeping the kid clean: I let him follow up a bite with a finger chaser, and as he sucked on the fingers the food would go down easier. Downside, of course, was having to clean up hands, face, bib, neck, collar, feet (hey, they get around when he’s eating), and my glasses afterwards. No doubt if he had a choice in the matter something tastier would be on the menu but it’s the regular dose of humility I need — today my most important contribution was getting those few ounces of mush from bowl to mouth (and lip to mouth, bib to mouth, chair to mouth …) and that helps put things in perspective.

It is figgy’s birthday today and one of my favorite pastimes has been checking out where he is and mentally ticking it off against where she was and using her as a measuring stick for where he will be. I could not have imagined the past four years with kid — now kids — at the time, only a vague sense of wonder that life was going to change now and how after nine months of watching the growing inside we now got to watch her growing outside. And none of the past four years could have been predicted at all. The strange things she does, the rituals and games with rules that make sense to her four-year-old mind all couldn’t have come from thin air. I hear so many echoes lately that I can’t be sure if it’s in my head or not: did I say that out loud or was it my little doppleganger?

We have had a fun ride over the past four years and I’m looking forward to the next four, the next fourteen, the next forty. I suppose that in 2007 my mind flashed to 2025 — the year she turns eighteen and is theoretically an adult — but only briefly, as the long day that followed and the first week of sleep deprivation stretched time into taffy and before I knew it she was two and we were buying sandwiches and cupcakes for family at the Zoo, little shirtdress and hugs for everyone. Its two years on from that already and time keeps galloping forward. Calcifer is nearly six months already and I can feel time dilating again in a curious trot, how did we get this far already, how fun has this ride been, and where are we going next? I can’t wait to find out.

Mike