Rock Rock Rock

11 Sep

Em and Soso are still acquiring the concept of games.  They play hide and seek and tag and know what they’re doing now.  A few months ago, they would play hide and seek and both of them would close their eyes and start counting, or the one hiding would count out loud, though that didn’t seem to make their game less fun.  But you don’t really get a sense of winning and losing from hide and seek.  Bathtime is a different story.

Their tubbies are a love/hate relationship for Em and Soso.  Some nights they’re playful little fishes in the water, and some nights they’re a mopey wreck, depending on how zonked they already are.  Once they’re all cleaned up, if they’re not wiped out, they like to stay and play in the water as long as possible, and if one of them is alone in the water, she can stretch out and float and kick her legs and have a little more fun.  So then the one who gets out first to dry off basically gets the shaft, in their eyes.

I had a spectacular idea for resolving this.  We could play a game to see who gets out first!  It would make a stressful situation fun!  That night, when they were all rinsed off and started with “Soso’s getting out first!” “No, Em!”, I said “I think we’ll play a game to see who gets out first.  Do you want to play a game?”  They were intrigued.  So I explained Rock, Paper, Scissors.  At the count of three they were both going to tell me which one they picked.  “1, 2, 3.”  They waited for something to happen.  “OK, Em, what do you want?”  “Paper!”  Immediately Soso started telling me what she wanted “Rock!  I want Rock!”  And then I explained, “OK, Paper beats Rock, so Em wins, and can stay in the tub.”  And as soon as Soso’s feet hit the towel on the floor, she burst into tears and her face turned all red.

“I want Em to go first!!”

“I know, but Em picked Paper, and what did you pick?  You picked Rock, and Paper beats Rock, so Em wins the game.  And I said whoever wins the game could stay in the tub.”

“I’m sad!!  I want Em to go first, not me!!”

“I know, but you guys said you wanted to try the game, and Em won fair and square.”  Soso could not be calmed down and kept hysterically sobbing.

“I losed!!  I don’t wanna looose!!”

“I know.  Look, we’ll play again next time, and maybe you’ll win!”

“I will?!”

“Maybe, you never know, that’s what playing a game is like.  Maybe you can pick something different next time.”

“OK, I’ll win next-a-day.”

The next tubby, I optimistically tried the game again.  “Em, what do you want?”


“Soso, what about you?”


I felt pretty bad at the idea that Soso would lose again.  “Uh…remember last time Em picked Paper and you picked Rock and you lost?”


“Remember we talked about maybe picking a different one next time and you might win?  Are you sure you don’t want to pick something else?”

“No, Rock!  I want Rock!”

“Maybe you could pick Scissors?”

“Roooooock!”  She waved her little fist to make the rock sign.

“Uh…OK.  Paper beats Rock, so Em wins and can stay in the tubby.”

I lifted Soso out of the water as she burst into tears.  “I don’t wanna get out of the tub!  I didn’t lose!”

“Honey, I was trying to tell you, why didn’t you pick something different this time?”

“I like Rock!!  I just want Rock!!  Rock is my best!!”

“Oh man, I just don’t know what to tell you.”

I was pretty fearful of playing the game the next time we did tubbies, but I guess I figured it couldn’t possibly go badly three times.  And in fact, this time, while Soso still picked Rock, Em picked Scissors.  So I got to say, “Hey, Rock beats Scissors, so Soso wins this time.  Em, you have to get out of the tubby.”

At which point Em threw her head back and wailed.  “No!!”  On the floor mat, dripping from the bath, Em stomped her feet.  “I want to stay in!  I don’t wanna lose!!”

“But you got to stay in the bath the last two times, and now Soso has one time.  It’s good Soso got a turn to be in the tub.  You had two turns before.”

“I want a turn!!  I don’t like to lose!!”  Stomp stomp stomp stomp stomp.

The next tubby, they were both excited to play again.  Before I even asked, they were saying, “I’m Paper!”  “I want Rock!”

“No, forget it, guys, you’re both getting out at the same time.”

There was some resistance and crying, but ultimately they calmed down quickly and worked on messing around together outside of the tub.  We’ll figure out about winning and losing later.  It’s a slightly longer process than I thought it would be.  I just can’t help being an optimist sometimes.


I Can Smell Your Naked Midget

17 Jul

My vision is worse than Amy’s, and I don’t really like wearing my own glasses, so I can sympathize with Amy’s reluctance to wear hers sometimes, despite their being funky and hip and green (I don’t think mine have a color, as far as I know they are monochrome metal like a toaster, but at least they are small and lightweight glasses from the future and a far cry from the thick slab lenses I got as a kid, which would bend the light near my head so that my face looked warped).

I have the advantage of contact lenses, though, whereas Amy would rather die than put contact lenses on her eyeballs, or anything that’s not her eyelids.  Once in a while a doctor tortures her (and me) by prescribing medicinal eyedrops, and we initiate the eyedrop process, which involves me holding her head steady with one hand and the eyedrop bottle above her head with the other and saying repeatedly, “Open!  Open now!  OK, open your eyes for real now!  I’m going to do it now, 1, 2, 3!  Open!  No, really do it this time!” while Amy curls into a fetal position and cries, “I can’t!  I can’t do it!”

But when she needs them, Amy will wear her glasses.  Driving at night is the worst for her, and she always puts everyone’s safety first and puts her glasses on.  We were on a day trip to Mystic, CT earlier this summer and were leaving town after dark.  After I picked up the car from where I’d parked it, Amy and I debated who was driving back, and I ended up staying behind the wheel.  “I could’ve driven,” Amy argued.  “I remembered my glasses and everything.  That way I don’t see any chickens or midgets.”

Everybody in the car wanted Amy to explain further.

“Everything up ahead on the road looks blurry without them.  I’ll see something on the side of the road and can’t tell if it’s a chicken or a naked midget.  Then it’s actually a fire hydrant.  I said to my mom in the car one time, ‘Is that a midget dancing?’ and she said, ‘You mean that skunk?'”

So I drove, Amy didn’t need to wear her glasses, and the drive home went fine.  Except for one brief stretch, driving around the quiet, dark country roads beyond Mystic, when we must have passed through where a skunk sprayed.  Amy’s mom and dad both immediately thought of her.  “Hey,” called Amy’s dad from the way-back of the van, “I can smell your naked midget.”

Super Soso Versus the Bees

24 Jun

I’m busy rearranging the diapers in the changing table or something like that, opening cellophane packages, getting the plastic wipes container to stay shut, while Soso plays nearby.  I start to pick up on what she’s saying.  She’s got her little phone to her ear:

“I’m sorry, I going to the grocery store right now.”

The person on the other end of her phone must be asking her to skip the grocery store and do something else.

“No, I can’t, I havta drive to the store.”

Hearing her make up this whole dialog is really fascinating, so I stop what I’m doing and turn around to watch her, at which point she grins, looking a little sheepish, and lowers the phone from her ear.

“Daddy, it’s OK.  I not really on the phone.  It’s just ‘tend.”

I obviously have way too serious a look on my face.  She must be thinking I’m all worried that she’s driving while talking on her cell phone, or driving without wearing any pants, or operating a motor vehicle of any kind indoors.  She might also be afraid that I have absolutely no sense of humor and wouldn’t understand this kind of thing without it being patiently explained to me.  I tell her she’s wicked cute and I try not to interrupt her any further.

Sometimes Soso wants so badly to make us happy that if there’s something she thinks we love, she tells us all about how she got it just for us.  Like the shirt I’m wearing.  “Do you LOVE your shirt?”

“Yes, it’s great.”

“I picked it just for YOU!”


“Yeah!  I got it for you at the store, and now you can wear it!”

“You did?”


The other day she surprised me by not just being generous with gifts, but by heroically saving our family.  I was talking to my parents on the phone and afterward recounted to Amy how my dad had run over a nest of bees while mowing the lawn, and had bolted from them as fast as he could go with every hair standing on end.  While I was on the phone with my mom, he was out trying to deal with the nest.  Em demanded to know every detail of the conversation, so I repeated the story to her and Soso, about how Pop was chased by angry bees.  But Soso had an alternate ending.

“Then I got all the bees [accompanied by wildly grabbing gestures] and shooed them away [forceful burst of energy with her hands], and I saved him!”


“Yeah, I got them, I got all the bees.  All the bees…I got them.  And then I…and then they go away!  All the bees!”


“I got ALL those bees.”

Soso elaborated a lot more on the bee story, but the main thing was that she definitely saved my dad.

Grease Vitamins

23 Jun

Amy and I were talking about being pregnant.  What I remember most are the science-fiction wonder of live, moving ultrasounds on the computer screen, being incredulous that two people were squished up inside there rearranging her organs like furniture, and pitying her as she tried in vain to shift around the enormous belly o’ babies into a comfortable position.  She remembers me gawking at her belly, shaking my head, and telling her, “We have to get them out of you.”

So Amy was comparing notes with a friend about her pregnancy.  The thing the babies made Amy crave was veggies.  “I would finish throwing up and ask you to peel me a carrot.”  I peeled everything in sight, anything to make Amy less completely miserable.  As cravings go, Amy made out pretty well, but her friend wasn’t so lucky.  She was tortured by visions of greasy, nasty junk food.  One day the desperation overtook her and she veered off course, ducking through the drive thru.  She confessed to Amy later about enjoying the guilty pleasure of a fast food cheeseburger.

It seems like a pregnant mother could go nuts with all of the advice and pressure to always do the “right” thing for your child, and Amy was quick to sympathize with her friend and let her know a cheeseburger isn’t a big deal.  I agreed, “It’s your body telling you what it wants.”

“Right,” said Amy.  “Your body needs whatever nutrition it can get.”


“If your body wants a cheeseburger, it’s going to get those cheese nutrients.”


“And if it’s a greasy cheeseburger, then it gets those grease vitamins.”

“Right.  Did you say ‘grease vitamins’?”

Em and Soso were born at 34 weeks, 2 days, at 4 pounds 11 ounces and 5 pounds 14 ounces, and have been growing around the 100th percentile ever since.  I don’t know if it’s the grease vitamins or not.  As long as we have healthy kids, I’m not going to worry about the cheeseburgers.

What Your Kids Don’t Know About Zorro

24 May

I’ve always been more apt to talk about sex in a joke than talk about it for real, and that goes double for talking with my parents.  I’m not sure at what point it seemed OK and not incredibly embarrassing to even joke about it.  Sometimes it’s still embarrassing now.  My wife likes to recall that when she first met my Dad, they were watching TV and a Viagra commercial came on.  She felt a little awkward to start with, but when the ad’s narrator warned, “See your doctor if the erection lasts longer than 4 hours,” and my Dad said something like, “Why would someone want an erection for 4 hours?” Amy had no answer but to wonder desperately why I wasn’t in the room and why I was taking so long.

Now that I’m writing this, Amy reminds me of an even better one.  When Amy and I were first dating, I lived in a loft apartment with a simple futon mattress on the floor.  When we moved in together, we ditched the futon mattress and used Amy’s tiny creaky iron bed.  One day, my Dad and Amy were talking, and my Dad wanted to know, “How’d you get him into a bed?”  Amy was speechless as usual.  “No, no!” said my Dad.  “I know how…oh, never mind!”

It’s twice as bad with my kids as with my parents, though.  It is just not a topic that I can casually joke about at this point, though our teen daughters are 16 now, so I try to steer clear of it.

But when our family was together one night playing a word game, including Amy and me and my parents and my daughter T, I got ambitious and decided to try and tell a joke to my daughter.  My Mom had previously emailed the joke to Amy, and they were talking about how funny it was, so I thought it would be pretty harmless to try and relate it to T, since I could imagine her liking the punchline a lot.  “You really want to tell that joke?” Amy asked.  “It’s not really dirty or anything,” I reasoned.  Amy was skeptical, “It’s a little dirty.”  I honestly somehow forgot that most of the joke was about sex until I started telling it.  The following is my censored, butchered version.

“So these three women are sitting around talking about their men and their love lives and whether they’re happy with them, and they decide to…uh…spice things up, you know.”

“One is dating, one is having an affair, and one is married.  They all agree to wear…uh…a black…sexy outfit…and…shoes…and then meet back and discuss how it went.”

“They meet back and ask the one who’s dating how it went.”

“‘Great,’ she says, “I put on…that outfit…and we…had a really great time…uh…all night.”’

“Then they ask the one who’s having an affair how it went.”

“‘Well, I wore that outfit underneath a…uh…coat…and I surprised him at his office and we uh…did it there and…it was great.'”

There is mercifully only one part left to the joke, and I am relieved the end is in sight.

“So then they ask the one who’s married.  She says, ‘I got all dressed up just like we said, in a black mask and, you know, um, bra and heels, to greet him at the door when he came home from work, and he came in and saw me.'”

“‘Yeah?  What did he do then?’ they asked her.”

“‘He just said, “What’s for dinner, Zorro?'”

See, all I remembered was the punchline, and look what I had to go through to get to it.

“I know you’ve heard way worse than that, T,” I told her.

“Yeah, you’re really overprotective.”

“I’m protecting me!  You know how embarrassing that was!  God!”

Friends, not food

24 May

From the way Em and Soso react to visitors coming to our front door, you’d think Amy and I should socialize more.  The girls are fascinated by why people want to talk to us, and will thoroughly question us about anyone who comes by or calls.

Amy and I were talking, and I was relating something my friend Raj from work had said about his own young kids, who are a few years older than Em and Soso.  “Who were you talking about?” Em asked.  “Oh, Raj.”  “Raj?”  “Yes.”  “Is he your friend?”  “Yeah, I work with him.  He has two little kids just like we have two little kids, though they’re older than you.”  “I want to see them.”  “Oh, maybe we could do that sometime.”  Our conversation was interrupted by the house phone ringing.  Em was immediately excited: “Is it Raj?”  “Um, no, it’s a telemarketer.”

The confusion and wonder multiplies when we actually have more than one person come to the house on the same night.  There’s a family pizza place nearby that delivers, and is our go-to place when we are out of food to cook and creative ideas about where to eat.  It was Friday night and we’d decided to call in an order.  That same weekend, my friend David was going out of town and had asked us to feed their cats, and I’d told him he could drop off their house key any time that night.  I think I was just explaining to Em and Soso what we were having for dinner when David pulled in our driveway and came up to the front door.  “My friend David’s here, he has to give me something.”  “David’s here?” Em asked.  “Yeah, he’s my friend, I work with him, he’s got two cats that I’m going to look after.”  Em craned her neck to see out the front door window.  “Does he have the pizza??”

Ordering out is obviously a recurring theme in the household.  This past week Amy had asked a few landscapers to come to our house and give us estimates on some work.  They scheduled various morning appointments, and one morning around 9 there was a knock at the front door, which Amy ran off to answer.  Em immediately checked with me what was going on.  “Is it the pizza guy???”  She’s going to give people the impression we call in pizza for breakfast, which just doesn’t seem fair with all the nice meals we cook.  Maybe we’ll try inviting people over for a nice dinner more often, and Em and Soso will get more used to people coming and going at our house.

Ask, Daddy

20 May

Em and Soso are masters of a thousand voices.  Baby voices, cat voices, monster voices, shrill opera voices, and inexplicable raspy gravelly Linda Blair Exorcist voices.  Em in particular had a habit a few weeks back of talking half the time in her devil-possessed Exorcist voice: “Daaaaaddyyyyyy!”  Hearing a low, menacing tone coming out of that sweet cutie pie face really does seem supernatural and make you wonder whether there might be something to possession, and it’s especially eerie when it’s your own name.  “Thank you, daddy,” she would rasp, and the more she did it, the more Amy and I would crack up, which of course eggs her on.

I should also mention that Amy and I frequently call each other a pain in the ass when exasperated, but not too exasperated to use an insult affectionately.  “Oh, you’re a pain in my ass, hon.”

Obviously you can never say anything without expecting to hear it repeated back to you by your children.  But you don’t always expect how it will mutate in their heads or that it will sound like Linda Blair saying it, or that they’ll say it to you.  So one night at dinner I’m teasing Em about something.  Nothing serious, something like “Oh, Em doesn’t need any dessert.”  Em laughs and searches for the right words and finally ventures, “You’re a pain in the ask, Daddyyyyyyyyy!”  You could have heard a pin drop while Amy and I struggled not to laugh, and I had to leave the room and she had to put her hands over her face to cover up our huge smiles.  That’s the opposite of not reacting, but we are really bad about that.  It’s a miracle she is not walking around saying “ass” all day.  Or “ask”.

But then Soso will take some of the attention away by walking up to each of us at the dinner table and saying, “Do you want to hear my oink?”  “Sure,” one of us will say.  Soso closes her eyes, stretches out her arms in front of her, bows forward to exhale a large breath, and then sucks in a great big oinking noseful of air that makes her head vibrate: “ONNNNNNNGGGGGHHHKKKKKK!”  So we can stop laughing at the word “ass” and laugh at something less crude.  Pig sounds.  They know their audience, and they have our sense of humor down pat.