Wednesday, September 21, 2011

... we've only just begun...

.. to adjust ...

Our Preschooler
(with kelp)

L has now been going to school officially for 2 weeks, and it's been an adjustment for us all. I don't mean in any huge blowout ways, but in small ways and in realizations that our baby is now pushed out into the hard mean world (the "hard, mean world" that is Montessori school, I should note, a very different hard and mean than other parts of this world).

She's been tired out by the experience, but we're all managing. She has her breakdowns, but always has, and to be honest, I don't notice anything hugely different in either frequency or depth of breakdown. She's begun bringing home some of her work, a calendar she made (this is huge, because she's watched now for 2 years while K has brought home calendars, and finally she's got one up on the "frigidator"), a couple of books she's made of basic letters. There's been her first permission slip for her first field trip.

And then there are the moments that touch a parent's heart, even if just momentarily:

M: What's your favorite thing about school?
L: Ummm.... the book loft.
(I can see this, since she loves books and will frequently take one off and "read" it out loud to herself)
M: Oh, do you go up in the book loft?
L: No.
M: No? Why not?
L: There's no one to help me down.
M&me: :<

me: Who did you play with today?
L: No one.
me: No one?
L: No.
me: What about K? Did you play with K at recess?
L: No. She was over there and I wasn't.
me: :<

me: What did you have for snack today?
L: Nothing.
M: Nothing?
me (to M): She ate her lunch in the van on the way home.
M: You didn't eat your lunch at school?
L: No.
me&M: Why not?
L: Because.
M: What was there for snack?
L: Carrots and Veggie Bootie.
M: Did you like that?
L: Yeah.
M&me: So you ate snack?
L: No.
me: Why not?
L: Because no one tapped me.
me: No one tagged you?
K: No, not 'tagged,' it's 'tapped' Daddy.
me: Oh, because no one tagged you, L?
L: Yeah, no one tagged me.
:< :< :<

She doesn't want to have grapes at lunch because she can't open the container without spilling them, so we've been giving her pluots. But she's not even eating these, often. At least not until we pick her up.

I think fundamentally she's still getting her feet under her, and I suspect she's just hanging low, trying to figure things out. And with Montessori there's a lot to figure out. It's self-driven to a large degree, so she doesn't get told what to do every minute. Thus, she doesn't do anything.

There's also the question of how reliable our information feed is. L will tell us first one thing and then another contradictory thing. Her teacher says she's doing well and is a "joy to have in class," but she also told me that L is "one of the quiet ones" which tells me she isn't yet being her full self. Ask anyone: L "quiet?" Ha!

M reminds me that K went through the same thing, and that she adjusted to the point that now she's got initiative and confidence. L will get there as well. It's just that it takes time for her father's chest to stop aching.

And the first kid that's openly mean to her will get a bop in the face. From me!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

definitions: dreamember / oak

dreamember - verb, to recall something that happened in a dream.

(bedroom door opens, revealing a disheveled little girl)
me: Ugh... what time...? Hi K.
K: Daddy?
me (whispering): Let's whisper so we don't wake up your sister.
K (whispering and coming closer): Daddy?
me: Yeah? Come snuggle in between us.
K (crawling into bed between M and me): Is it morning yet?
me: Sort of. It's 5. But it's 7 your time, so it's morning.
K: Well, Daddy?
me: Yeah?
K: I had a dream and it woke me up.
me (putting my arm around my oldest daughter and reveling in the facts that she is back home with her mother and sister, and that she's still young enough to want to crawl into bed with us): What happened in your dream? Do you remember?
K: Yeah, there was someone, I don't dreamember who, and they were in the swimming pool....

oak - noun, the middle part of an egg, especially a hard boiled egg
me: What are you going to eat for breakfast? K? K? Do you want a hard boiled egg? I made hard boiled eggs.
K: I only like the outside white part.
me: I know. I'll take the inside out.
L: I like the oak.
me: You want your sister's yolk?
L (nodding): I like the oak. (takes it from me as I also set a plate with the white in front of K)
K (starting to eat her white): I only like this part.
me: I know
L: I like both. I like the outside and the oak. (puts it into her mouth)
K (gagging at the sight): Ugh! I can't... yuck!
M and me: (laughter)
me: You don't have to eat it K.
K (still drive-heaving): I know but .... ugh!
L (grinning): Actually, I don't like the oak either.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

... keep me hanging on the telelphone...

Scenes from a Phone Call, vol. 2

Another snippet from a Birmingham-Seattle call:

M: ... and we went to the zoo, didn't we girls?
(chaotic speaking in the background)
M: The girls would like to talk to you.
K&L (on separate phones, a new phenomenon for them): Hi DaHiDadaddyCanyouhearcanmeyouhearme?
me: Uh, yeah! How are you.
K: Good Daddy. I miss you.
me: I miss...
L: I miss you too Dada!!
me: ... you. I miss you bo...
K: We went to...
L: We went... too.
K: ...the zoo. There's...
L: ... to the...
K: ... baby lions...
L: ... zoo, yeah, baby...
K: ... and we can name ...
L: ... lions. And we...
K: ... them what...
L: ... can name...
me: Whoa! What? Baby lions?
K&L: Yeah! And we can name them!!
me: What are you going to name them?
K: Well, they're boy lions Daddy.
L: Yeah, they're boy...
K: And we can name them.
L: .. lions. And we can
K: And I think maybe...
L: ... I think maybe...
me: What?
K: Maybe...
me: What about 'Paul?'
K: What?
L: What?!
me: What about 'Paul?'
K: What do you mean?
L: Yeah, what do you mean?!?
me: For the lion. As a name.
K: I don't...
L: Yeah, I don't... (pause, waiting for her sister)
K: ... I don't think...
L: Yeah, I don't think....
me: It's a good name. It's my name!
K: Oh yeah.
L (laughing): Oh yeah! I guess we forgotted!
slightly later
L: Daddy, how many phones do you think we're using?
me: Ummm, 2?
L (laughing): Yeth! How many phones are you using Dada?
me: 1.
L: What? That's rethponsible!!
me: I miss you girls. I love you!
K&L: We miss you too. We love you Daddy!!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

...suspended in my masquerade...

or, Scenes from a Phone call, vol 1

M and the girls were in Alabama for a week visiting her mother (Grandmama), while I stayed home and worked on getting our studio insulated, a long-delayed step in a project that started before K was born. Ultimately I'll move my office out of the dining room and into the studio. But this is going to take some doing, especially in terms of explaining things to the girls.

L: You working on the studio Dada?
me: Yup, while you're in Alabama.
L: What ith we going to use it for?
me: My office. I'll move my office into it.
L: But Dada, what will we use the dining room for?

uh... dining?

But we digress...

In any case, the separation meant that we had numerous phone "conversations," often early in the morning, my time. I was up early (5-ish) every day, heading to work on the 6.45a water taxi. Because I could. And because it meant that I could both get a good day's work in, and be home in time to work on the studio.

So one morning I got to talk w/ M and K, and I was struck by just how “growed up” K seems. She’s using the phone like a regular tool (L, in contrast, still uses it like a toy, nodding and/or shaking her head while I talk to her, rather than responding audibly).

She told me all about the things she'd been doing, swimming and diving "on the steps but not on the bottom step except Mommy threw the diving stick one time on the bottom step and I couldn't get it but then I did." Nice work! It was fun to actually be able to have a conversation with my eldest daughter, especially since this phase doesn't mean she's ready to push me away.

me (ending the conversation because my oatmeal is getting cold and my water taxi won't wait): I love you K. I miss you.
K: I love you too Daddy. I miss you.
me: I miss snuggling with you.
K: I miss snuggling with you too Daddy.

She even came back on after we’d said goodbye, to say “one more thing.”

K: Uh, Daddy?
me: Yeah K?
K: How is the studio going?

How indeed! Not as fast as you are apparently growing up!

It’s not hard for me to imagine her at 15 or 20, though if she’s as interested in me and what I’m doing at both those ages, I’ll be thrilled beyond speech. I have to steel myself for the reality that she and L are very likely to not really give a darn about their father for a period of 5 to 25 years, starting somewhere between 9 and 12, and lasting through somewhere between 15 and 39.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

definitions: day after yesterday / cocopugs

It's been a long time since I've managed to regularly post here. In that time the girls and M have been to Alabama and back, and have started school. I'm way behind, suspecting now that I'll never get caught up. I never did manage to post much about our trip to Maui in May.

But... it's Double Definition Tuesday once again, with some new words I learned during one of our Seattle-Birmingham phone calls.


day after yesterday
- noun, the day prior to the current day (also sometimes
referred to as "yesterday")

(phone call from Alabama)
M: We miss you too. Here, K wants to say hi. She's eating Cocopuffs.
K: Daddy, Daddy, we got me a new diaper bag and L a new princess dress and
we went swimming and got new water rockets and I like to dive to get the
rockets on the third step but once Mommy accidentally dropped the rocket
on the bottom steps and I got it.
me: Wow! Really?
K: Yeah. And L's dress is kind of too long but she could maybe wear it on
her birthday but it's pink and scratchy and she's wearing it right now.
me: Now?
K: Yeah. In bed. She's still sleeping.
me (trying to start my oatmeal): She is? That's good.
K: Yeah, but her dress is scratchy.
me: Scratchy? You mean the material?
K: Yeah. And it's really too long. It pretty much touches the ground. We
got our nails done yesterday.
me: Your nails done? What color are they?
K: Glittery on my fingers and pink on my toes with a flower on my toes. On
my big toes.
me: Pink with a flower?
K: On my big toes. Yeah.
me: Wow... All of this yesterday?
K: Yeah, the day... the day... the day after yesterday.
me: Right.

Cocopugs - proper noun, a type of breakfast cereal served to small
children by grandparents. Will turn standing milk brown and spike insulin

me (continuing above conversation): I love you K. I miss you.
K: I miss you too Daddy. And I love you. My Cocopugs are turning my milk chocolate.
me: Cocopugs, huh? You're really getting spoiled by Grandmama, aren't you?
K: No.
me: No?
K: I like getting spoiled by Grandmama.
me: Well, that's what grandmothers are supposed to do.
K: Bye Daddy! I love you.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

... why don't you come with me little girl...

(edit: added link to earlier post)

... on a water taxi ride!

So I'm waaaaaay behind with things, but rather than try to recap what's happened, I'll aim to get to things in bits and pieces and simply jump ahead to today, 9/11/11. It's an historically significant date, to be sure, but I'm going to sidestep the politics and just focus on a date spent with my younger daughter.

In the morning I'd dragged both girls to the beach to get some exercise and work off some energy (photos to follow in a separate post). Neither of them wanted to go, but M needed some time on her own and I packed them up and drove them down and then they didn't want to leave. But that was morning. This was afternoon.

K had a birthday party this afternoon, which meant some quality time for me and L. Which meant that she suggested "maybe we can do thomthing Dada, like... get a cupcake?" Precedent set (and apparently I failed to write about that, but I could have sworn there was an entry to link to....and there is. Right here)! But no, we weren't going to get a cupcake this time. Instead we were going to catch the water taxi over to the city and back. L was fairly excited about this option, which boded (bade?) well.

The arc of our afternoon went something like this:


The pictures show this:

Waiting for a... boat
(wearing slightly resort-y clothing)

Aboard and waiting to set sail
(with the prospect of sea lions in the offing)

We'd heard plenty of barking while we waited, and I knew the sea lions hung out at the buoy offshore, so I got us a seat on the starboard side of the boat, figuring we'd get close enough to see them. L told me she'd already seen sea lions at the Birmingham Zoo, but how much cooler to see them in the wild! I thought so, and convinced her the same.

She wanted to go upstairs, no, downstairs, by the window. She wanted the window seat. It was too sunny, where were the sea lions? When were we going to leave? There's the captain. What? There's our captain. What captain? The captain of the boat. Who? That woman. That woman? Yes, she's our captain. The's our captain? Yes.

And we did. We left. And we saw sea lions.

Sea lions splashing around the buoy, sea lions lying on the buoy, sea lions eating all the salmon in Elliott Bay!

Picture of Dada
(and she's turning into a decent photographer!)

One of the things I love is when L asks to use my camera. We gave her one when she turned 3, but she likes mine better, and takes fairly good photos with it. I want to encourage her, so I do my best to bite back my nervousness at handing my 3yo a not-cheap digital SLR. But when I do she fires off 5 or 10 shots in 4 or 6 seconds, and some of them turn out well. I think she's managed to get the best pictures of me that anyone has in the last couple of years.

On the way back to West Seattle,
(blood sugars low and tempers hot)

We rode, we saw the sea lions, we got close to downtown at which point L was hot and tired. She wanted to know what we were going to do. Well, get off the boat and stand in line to get back on. But what are we going to DO? I told her we were going to ride it back home and she slumped in her seat with arms crossed, muttering: "I don't like riding the water taxi!" When I asked why not, she said "Because it's boring!"

She perked up a bit when I told her she could sit in a row on her own. She sat behind me and held onto my arm (her default when she needs comfort). I could tell she was exhausted and probably needed to eat something.

Leaving the boat, she tripped on the gangplank going up to the dock while I was pulling her along and she tripped and fell and started crying and I carried her the rest of the way to the car. A woman walking behind us handed her a small American flag, which L held tightly while she cried into my shoulder.

L feel asleep on the 4 minute drive from Seacrest Park to home. This girl was running on empty!

Bed for both girls by 6.15p, and trust me, they need the rest! (So do we!!)