Monday, November 20, 2006

A Little Thanksgiving Perspective

This morning, as I was dropping the kids off, I stopped to talk to one of Sam's teachers for a second. Random conversation, actually, she was asking about the school where I work, catering and whatnot... and I was so surprised by her next comment I can't even remember how it came up... at one point she said (referring to the kids at daycare) "oh, we all refer to them as 'the rich kids'"...
Granted, most of the families that go there have a good deal of money - and some of them have obscene amounts of money - but I never really gave it much thought. A rich kid though, I had no idea... cool... where he is getting all of his money, I have no clue. Since he picks up spare change and puts it in his piggy bank, he might actually be worth more than me. Anyway, two things that I was chuckling to myself about on the way to work - 1. If I need to rub two dimes together I'd have to run to the ATM and get another dime.. and 2. I am very thankful for what I have, and as Jimmy Stewart as it sounds, some days I feel like the richest guy in town.
One last thought, since at the moment I'm not really sure where I'll be during the Thanksgiving weekend, and I don't know when I'll write again or talk to anyone, I'll leave you all with a poem by Peter LaForge we stumbled across in our travels. Cheesy, but it gets the job done.

Perhaps I should have said it just between
The wine and grace, the wishing and the blessing.
That was a time for words, when the scene
Had just begun, before we passed the dressing.
Before the knife cut deep into the breast,
I might have paused, looked up and all around
Into the eyes of each of them. A jest
Came easier, wit tossed into the sound
And lost. Between the stuffing and the pie,
Was yet another quiet moment when
I could have told them all. Instead I sighed
And let it pass. Just once before the end
I should have cried, "Listen, before you go.
I love you. I just wanted you to know."

Sunday, November 19, 2006

"allow me introduce my wife, Brisket"

Here's a little Sunday afternoon snippet of a blog for ya, a little story that I've been holding in since yesterday without telling anyone because it was so stinking funny...
After a somewhat uneventful trip to the zoo yesterday, we decided to stay out of the house a little longer and go to IKEA, since we were driving in that direction anyway. Oh yeah, before I even begin that part - it would have been an uneventful drive from the zoo to IKEA too, had Sara not decided to recreate the 'liquid oxygen' scene from the movie "The Abyss" using hot coffee instead of a breathable fluid... which resulted in a remarkably dramatic hurl/cough of steaming coffee and lung tissue onto my passenger side floormat. Luckily, about two months ago I thought to myself "gee if anyone ever spews hot coffee and lung in my car, it'll be quite a mess" and cautiously replaced my original floormats with custom fitted diamond-plate aluminum mats, so the cleanup was pretty easy.
After a quick mop we arrived, and were soon wandering through a maze of modular furniture, tiny eraserless pencil in hand. As usual when we leave the house with both kids, we split up into two groups about ten feet apart, me with Sam and Sara with Lily. We've never really discussed it, but it must be some sort of innate parenting thing - close enough to talk to each other, but far enough apart to prevent any sort of group injury that might result from Sam pulling over a Beech Bernhuuult bookcase or Lily flinging a handful of overheated lingonberry. Anyway, Sara split off to look for something and I let Sam stop in the ballpit for a minute or two. As soon as he seemed sufficiently coated with whatever-substance-I'd-care-not-to-think-about-that-might-be-in-the-ball-pit, I started gradually coaxing him out of the balls.
...little sidebar, Lily has a nickname (Bean), but Sam seems to prefer to be called whatever pops into my head. Fun for both of us, really. I usually go with the old standby, crabcake, but try to mix it up a little with picklejar, llama, shoebox, Peter Jennings... you get the idea...
So after a little trying, "C'mon lets go.... OK, out of the balls, we have to find mom... Seriously, lets roll..." I got tired of waiting and said, "ok, that's enough, Gravy, lets go" and started to walk away.
you ready for the good part?
I turned around to make sure he was following me just in time to hear an old grandmother-y type shake her head and say to the woman she was with, "I think that little boy's name is Gravy!"

(postscript to Jeanne - "and that's when the healing began...")

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

On Being A Man

Let me start by saying we had a remarkable Halloween. Aside from the two parades that the kids were in, the spooky-room party at their daycare, and the costume contest - we ended up with an astounding 11 pounds of candy on Wednesday morning (yes, I actually weighed it on my handy dandy kitchen scale). Granted , Twix bars are pretty heavy, but still, since the kids don't really eat that much candy that means I'll be about 10 pounds heavier as I enter the Thanksgiving holiday. Put some braces on your chairs people, cause I'm fixin to break em.
On a completely different note, the boy is getting bigger. Not just in size, but lately he has his own little stockpile of ideas on how the world works - and some of them are set in stone. After our reaction to his eating duck-feces-covered corn, he has very definite opinions on what will get him sick, and often asks us if something will make him sick or tells us that eating dog food (for example) will make people sick. At the moment, he is a bit overboard with the sick thing, but in general he has specific opinions on how life works. Manners, ownership, and even rules of friendship are set, and he follows his own rules and applies them to others. Some of these rules he has are a mystery to me, formed it seems from daycare or conversations with his friends, and some I know he has gotten from us. For the most part he knows what he can, and cannot get away with at home and at school - and occasionally tells me (in amazement or disappointment) stories about things that his friends do.
So lately I've been thinking a bit about growing up, and how I became who I am, for better or worse. I don't remember a heck of a lot about being three, just snippets from our time in Hungary, but nothing really life changing. Lessons were learned like most people, I expect, not picked up at a particular moment but grown into. Morals and ethics worn in over time like a comfortable shoe - there isn't really moment when the leather breaks, but over time everything fits well enough that you don't even notice it's there...
There was a day, though, when I was ten (give or take a few years) and standing on our front porch I heard a spectacular noise... and the next 15 minutes or so are crystal clear in my mind. I hopped down to the sidewalk and saw at the corner a small blue hatchback rolled over onto it's roof, tires still spinning. Inside, a man about 30ish or so was slowly starting to wriggle out of the seatbelt that held him upside down. Across the street, a white-haired woman in a beige clunky Buick was sitting still, holding tightly onto the steering wheel. I remember thinking "wow, an accident... crazy..." and starting to walk toward the cars. I had taken about two steps when my father came out of the house and asked what happened, and I yelled up to the porch that there was an accident and a car had turned over.
Before I knew it he ran past me - and in an instant I was ashamed of myself. By the time I reached the corner he was already helping the man out of the overturned car, and I was already asking myself why I hadn't.
I've thought of it often since then, but recently it has taken on new meaning. These days I wonder when those moments will come for Sam or Lily, and if I'll run when I should, reach my hand out when they haven't learned how to yet. I suppose I'll never know what they'll remember years from now, or what I'll look like in their eyes... what I do know, at the moment, is only what I whisper to them when they go to bed, "Want to hear a secret?" I say every day, "Guess who my favorite Sam (or Lily) is?" and wait till they answer. Hopefully, everything after that will fall into place, and watching them move in the right direction will seem as natural as those perfectly worn in shoes.
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