Tag Archives: childhood

Crying Games

Sweet

Kissing Boo-boos 

This sticker sucks, where is the princess?

This sticker sucks, where is the princess?

My kids can go from adorable and well-behaved to faking an injury in the speed of being told no.  Injuries have always been spotlight grabbers and kids are smart.  We go through band aids like paper towels because let’s be honest, band aids are just princess stickers that come with sympathy and attention.  Could there be anything better to have for a toddler.  So yeah, I recognize that when I hear, “I NEED A BAND AID” it rarely is warranted and often the location of said boo-boo can mysteriously relocate in the time it takes to get the wrapper off of the sticker band-aid.  That’s because keeping tabs on the locale of imaginary injuries can be a tough job.

There is a real benefit to those little bumps and bruises though, both real and imaginary ones.  It gives me a chance to kiss something and make it better.  Even though my lips have no magical healing abilities, as long as I am dad and they are little, kisses get to be better than medicine because they make everything feel better. There is definitely some magic in that.  When we grow up tears usually have so much stress fueling them that kisses and hugs seem to lose their luster. I try to remember how lucky I am to be able to provide the kind of comfort that a parent gives their child and though some level of that will always remain, this is the time that it is really special.  For example, go find an adult that is crying and start to tickle them and see what happens.  One of the greatest things about being a parent is being able to make everything better in their eyes even on days that you can’t seem to get anything right in yours.  Seeing a tiny little smile begin to blossom out of a face puddle of tears is totally sweet.

 

Weak

There Will Be Tears 

I don't want crust on my sandwich!

I don’t want crust on my sandwich!

Speaking of face puddles, toddlers are crazy good at crying.  In their defense, if I was just beginning to learn and understand that I was a part of a whole big world instead of the whole big world being a part of me I may get a bit verklempt as well. I’m not suggesting that our little one isn’t still the boss of us in a lot of ways but she is starting to figure out that the whole baby thing where the world and everyone in it revolved around her was only temporary.  That is probably a tough pill to swallow and for the most part she is handling that kind of life changing realization rather gracefully but every now and then the reality slaps her cold in the face and she isn’t in the mood to deal with it.

She doesn’t know how to do a ton of stuff yet but for as far back as she can remember tears got results.  Granted back then she was crying because she needed a clean diaper and now the tears may be because butterflies won’t talk to her or her mean parents won’t let her mix Skittles with Cheerios and milk for breakfast.  When she was a baby the only reasons her cries weren’t tended to immediately was If they went unheard. Well, Captain Lung Capacity has no struggle with upping the volume  and if that doesn’t work, then the real exasperation begins to set in.  I’ve even had her suddenly stop mid sob to look up at me and say, “DADDY, I’M CRYING!”  Like anyone in our house or on our street didn’t hear her.  There should be a game show where parents of toddlers have to guess if the cries of a 2-year-old are the result of an appendage stuck in a piece of running farm machinery or if they got an orange Popsicle when they wanted a red one.

Toddler-hood is the gateway into a brave new world and I need to remind myself that it isn’t all roses and sunshine for them either.  I should also keep in mind that If I am going to call them a jerk under my breath I had better make sure it is way under my breath because the lady at the grocery store doesn’t understand but is happy to offer her parenting critique.  Like apparently suggesting that your kid  can use the tears streaming down her face to wash down the two more bites of carrots (that basically make up 79% of her entire lunch) you are begging her to eat is not good form.

I am lucky that these times are less and less frequent and love them no matter what causes the crying but when it is because they aren’t allowed to paint the TV, it is totally weak.

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Don’t Step on the Magic

Sweet

Saying Yes

ketchupbread

Because why not ketchup.
Stock Photo

Sometimes you have to give in to originality. You need to stop letting your daily decisions be regimented by social norms. Sometimes the only consequence of saying yes is your kid’s snaggle-toothed smile.

What I’m trying to say here is that I just put a turkey and ketchup sandwich into a school lunch. That’s right, I pack lunches. I also get daily lunch reviews that occasionally could make the harshest New York Times food critic cringe at times. I am still waiting for my Zagat rating though.  My initial reaction to this request was saying no. I mean ketchup on a sandwich is weird, Subway has 37 different condiments you can put on a sandwich and ketchup is not one of them. I don’t want my kid to be known as the ketchup sandwich girl.

Then I thought about it for a bit and wondered who made me the boss of what tastes good to my first grader.  Once upon a time I was a kid too and I am sure I was into some stuff that was weird.  I’m sure I got told no a few times to my suggestions of strange ideas and eventually put those ideas to rest and got normal.  I’m not suggesting that this was completely my idea but had I stuck with some of my outside the norm ideas we probably wouldn’t have had to wait this long to be able to buy containers of dehydrated cereal marshmallows that we are now free to enjoy on everything from Rice Crispies to spaghetti.

The world is going to do a fine job of stepping on the innocent magic a child is born with.  Over time a part of their creativity will get broken and pushed aside as they get normal and get accepted instead of getting fun and getting crazy.  Luckily a ketchup sandwich doesn’t really have any negative side effects and saying yes was easy.  The rest of the day though, I thought about how easy it would have been to just say no and step on a little bit of her magic without even realizing it.  I’m not suggesting I need a medal or anything.  A trophy maybe but not like with a big ceremony and a marching band and having to give some inspirational tear jerking speech while I accept a key to the city and a free Subway sandwiches for life card.

It isn’t like making a ketchup sandwich made her day that much more awesome or not making it would have crushed her but the situation did offer me a chance to reflect on how fast life can kick the childhood magic right out of their hands.  I’d like to try and keep it around a bit longer, I mean who knows what kind of amazing ideas could be floating around in her head afraid to come out because they may be weird.

Sometimes I think it is good to remember that being a parent is just as much about saying yes as it is about saying no and sometimes saying yes can be totally sweet.

 

Weak

Didn’t We Just Do that Whole Cicada Thing?  

They should have given this car better handling considering all the ladies I had to dodge trying to get at me and my sweet ride. Photo from cardomain.com

They should have given this car better handling considering all the ladies I had to dodge trying to get at me and my sweet ride.
Photo from cardomain.com

Ever have a memory that seems like it occurred pretty recently and then realize it was 10 or 20 years ago?  Man, that is like age kicking you right in the breadbasket (when I was a kid, I used to watch wrestling and “bread basket” was what they called that part of a male that rests below the belt and is very sensitive to pain.)

Last night while I was wondering when David Letterman stopped being funny he made some joke about the pending Cicada Apocalypse on the east coast. I looked at my wife and asked how this could be news when it just happened like last year?  Only it didn’t happen last year, it happened 17 years ago.  That’s right, 1996 was the last time the 17 year Cicadas took over both the east coast and the monologues of used to be funny late night talk show hosts.

17 years ago I was popping a Spin Doctors CD into my disc-man and putting a tape with a cord connected to it into my in dash tape deck, hoping not to drive over too many bumps because we all knew that anti-skip technology was mostly hollow promises and nothing is worse than being right in the middle of belting out “If you want to buy me flowers” and your music screech to a halt.

How could that much time have passed so quickly?  How have I been alive long enough to remember the great 17 year cicada outbreak of ’96?  Which, if I recall correctly, did not in any way live up to the hype so I am pretty skeptical of the upcoming reunion tour.  Life has a way of sneaking by and tricking us sometimes. Sure, I realize that I have had 17 years of life experience since the last cicada show-down and I’m happy I’m not still driving a faded blue Chevrolet Cavalier with a leaky sunroof.

Just like flipping through the pages of a calendar and thinking Christmas will be here soon because, how long can it possibly take to live 6 pages, time can seem equally as fast when you look back at things that feel like they just happened and then realize it was long enough ago that you still had a bowl cut.  I’m not sad about getting older and I am having a good time filling each year with memories just as sweet as that Spin Doctors CD.  Sometimes though, having time roundhouse you from out of nowhere with how old you are can be completely weak.


Book Learnin’

Sweet

School Supplies 

School supplies were kind of my jam back in the day.  In fact, even now whenever I enter serious business negotiations, I always lead with slowly splitting the Velcro seal on my Transformers Trapper Keeper in order to let the intimidation set in.  You other professionals can have your leather padfolios but I bet they don’t have a built-in pencil-case or a secret milk money pocket.

I always liked school supplies because the idea of organization is very appealing to me.  It is the execution of said organization that I find dreadfully boring and difficult to maintain.  The first day of school was always my most organized day of the year because my backpack was full of fresh pencils and unbent folders and all of my crayons were present and accounted for in a box with no frayed and torn edges.  Basically by day two, I had doodled on all of my folders, lost three crayons, spilled my glue and managed to crumple every important handout into one paper lump in the bottom of my Jansport.

The first day of school was also the day that my shoes were the cleanest which meant I was at the apex of my jumping and running abilities.  Maybe the first night or so I would get home and try to rub out the new scuffs with a wet paper towel but by the end of the week they looked like those Nikes that Forrest Gump ran across the country in.  Only they weren’t Nikes, they were Pro-Wings which were similar to Nikes only the swoosh went the other way, the colors weren’t as cool, and they cost about 20% of what Nikes did.

I loved the new school supplies because regardless of their looming destiny of being lost, broken, or crumpled, for that brief moment they were pristine and full of promise.  Not to overload the Tom Hanks references but I think he summed up the allure of new school supplies best when his character Joe Fox told Kathleen Kelly (Meg Ryan) “I would send you a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils.”  Much like a bouquet of flowers, my pencils would wither and die in no time but for that moment they were perfect.  There is a little bit of magic in that first day of school as you feel your independence start to swell inside of you and realize that you will have a hand in charting your own course.  Even if it is only that you are in charge of your pencils and glue sticks, you are still the boss of something.

I don’t know if you remember the last time you had one of those little lumps form in the back of your throat but my daughter started first grade today, so for me it was this morning.  Regardless of their inevitable demise, the perfectness of brand new school supplies is totally sweet.

 

Weak

When The Fat Lady Sings 

Yep, you read that last part right.  Today the high in Atlanta  is 90 degrees and kids are headed back to school.  Where does the time go?  Sure, they get out at the beginning of May now but it still just doesn’t feel right.  While I will admit that the first day of school can be sweet, it pales in comparison to the weakness of the last day of summer vacation.  The last day of summer vacation is like the Sunday night blues times infinity.  You start to worry that they might have really been serious about that summer reading list but there is no use in starting now and you suddenly feel like you didn’t chew near enough gum during the summer and it is about to be forbidden.

You try to look on the bright side and consider your new kicks and school clothes but no matter what your mom says, you know that the little knight on the horse holding a flag  on your Knights of the Round Table shirt looks nothing like the real Polo logo.  At least you were able to avoid the Rose Art crayon incident of last year and you got your mom to spring for some Crayolas (not that anyone forgot your loser crayons).

You don’t even consider it at the time because you are excited about your new duds but somewhere around getting off the bus, you realize you are that kid that wore his back to school sweater and stiff dark blue Rustler jeans even though it is August and almost 100 degrees outside.  Your new supplies are nice but eventually you realize that your Trapper Keeper must have been last year’s model on clearance because it didn’t come with a glow in the dark protractor or vinyl mesh pocket on the inside.  Quickly any first day magic fades away and cold hard fact that summer is over washes over you.

I guess there are two kinds of people in the world, those that call it the night before the first day of school, and those that call it the last day of summer vacation.  For me, I was like  a sailor watching his final day of shore leave evaporate around him.  That day was always a last day and never a day before a first.  I suppose book learnin’ is still important so off to school they go but when the fat lady is entering the final chorus of your summer of freedom, it is totally weak.

 

 


Pizza Soup

Sweet

Family Tradition  

I have a propensity to blog about food a bit more often than other topics.  I guess that you are supposed to write what you know so it is likely that my mediocre ramblings about Christmas candy and  bread bowls is as good as it will get.  Sorry guys.  I think, though, that another reason I use food as a topic is because, like smells, food has a way of being nostalgic.  If you have read even just a few of my posts you probably know I am a perpetual kid so this kind of makes sense.

The best food related memories I have are not in the eating but in the preparing of food as a kid with my family.  The worst memories are things like always forgetting to shake my Yoo-Hoo and feeling sad when I had gotten every last bit of cheese off the red handi-snack stick.  I guess the emotional tie is as evident as ever in the term comfort food.

Preparing food always brought us together as a family.  We didn’t eat out very often and even when we did, I didn’t consider a restaurant fancy unless I got to choose biscuits or cornbread.  Most of the time mom would cook but when everyone pitched in, we made more than dinner.  We made memories.

I like that I get to experience that with my family now and if I had to name our tradition it would be called pizza soup.  You see, my wife’s family used to make pizza together,  before we had kids we would make it together, and now it is a full blown 2 on 2 pizza competition.  At the risk of some horrible pun, it is rather cheesy and like something you would expect to see on a poorly written sit-com.  That doesn’t matter though, at the end of each competition when the pizzas go into the oven we split up the remaining sauce, cheese, and toppings into tiny ramikens and enjoy our amuse bouche of pizza soup.  It isn’t really about the pizza or the dinner at all but about the laughter and the giggles and the occasional sauce smeared on daddy’s nose that make pizza soup totally sweet.

 

Weak

I Can Do That 

image via Ronco

I am a man.  As a man, I am impressed by very little.  Or at the very least, I can’t let on that I am impressed.  This personality trait often bubbles to the surface in the kitchen.  I like to think that I can handle my own in the kitchen and  at times I cook pretty well.   The problem is that sometimes I may talk a bit too big of a game.  I am not one to brag but every time I start to make hamburger helper I expect Bobby Flay to walk in and ask if I am ready for a throw down.  I like to cook and you can bank on the fact that anytime macaroni and cheese is made in our house, I will be eating the last 3 bites from the pot standing by the stove relishing in each lukewarm mouthful of salty regret.

Sometimes we watch cooking shows and I never shy away from saying that something doesn’t look that hard or that I could do it.  I remember saying something similar once about a show on food trucks.  The great part about making ridiculous assumptions about that kind of thing is that I will never actually try to start a food truck and as long as it looms in uncertainty I can claim victory.  In actuality, if I started a food truck it would probably be known as that weird guy trying to sell peanut butter and jelly sandwiches out of the trunk of his 97 Corolla.

I like to dream of being on a show like Top Chef and while I do have some background in restaurants and a few signature dishes, I think the reality might be something like this:

I proudly walk in with my Ron Popeil 6 star cutlery and wastes the first 3 minutes of the challenge arranging all of the knives in the butcher block that was a free gift because I ordered within the 20 minute window on the commercial.  Not phased by the equipment the other chefs are using, I set out to the pantry wondering where they have hidden all of the box dinners.  With time quickly ticking bye I overcome the panic, find my center, and go about my culinary business.  At the judges table, I step up and trying not to stare at Padma Lackshmi I announce, “today I have prepared for you cheese 3 ways.  grilled, toast, and mac’n.  Bon appetit.”

So maybe I over sell myself a bit and hide in the safety that some of my claims will never be tested but  you can’t blame a guy for dreaming.   Who knows, maybe making that cinnamon toast with chili powder that one time really was a fluke and I am better at this than I think.    I may make a serious pot of white chili but the hollow braggadocios claims of my kitchen prowess are totally weak.

 


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