Somewhere between Thanksgiving, and the next day, something magical happens each year in our home. Our “Magic Elves” appear. Santa sends them along on a magical slipstream of wind and snowflakes, to join our family for another season of merriment and mischief.
This is the fifth year.
That means we’ve had to come up with more than 100 clever and unique “things” for the elves to do each night. This is challenging, made moreso by the fact that, unlike the “Elf on the Shelf” our elves are completely soft, so they don’t stay in a pose. You can’t bend their arms and have them stay there. They can’t stand on their own. They literally are, like a sock.
But despite these challenges, we persevere. I’ll try and post some of this year’s exploits here for your enjoyment.
Here’s last night’s. As you can see, the elves created cutouts of minions and stuck their faces and appendages in them. Overall, it was cute, but I’m not sure the kids quite got what was going on here. All they saw was the minion toys and everyone drinking syrup. But hey, cross another one off the list. Only 23 more ideas to come up with.
A bit more than eight years ago, CareerMom and I bought this crib. We went to Toys-R-Us, Babies-R-Us and every other R-Us derivative you can imagine. I think we ended up about 15 miles north of our house in some suburb of the suburbs, in a no-name strip mall containing a high-end baby store.
And thus the Bonavita “Carla” crib came into our home.
Two weeks ago, I dismantled it. Eight years and three kids later it’s finally done. And other than some dried, crusty milk between the vertical slats, it’s in pristine condition. None of my kids “teethed” on the rails. It’s bittersweet letting it go, but it was time Baby-Girl got her own big-girl bed.
Government safety laws prohibit the donation of cribs manufactured prior to 2010 due to some issue with drop-sides on pre-2010 cribs and even though ours doesn’t have a drop-side, we still can’t donate it. Which is a shame. You spend $1200 on a crib, you want to see it not end up in a dumpster somewhere. But I think we have a taker for it (for free). Hope it goes to another good home.
It started out as this noise back in the back of his throat–not unlike the sound made by the “Predator” (just like this guy does it). He would do it usually while concentrating on something else, so I’m not even sure he realized he was doing it. Background noise tends to really get on my nerves, so after a while, I’d start saying, “Aiden, please stop making that throat noise.” Career-Mom who is normally quite stoic around such things, even succumbed after a while.
It has progressed.
Today, it’s not uncommon to hear any number of things coming from him, pretty much anytime he’s awake:
- The Predator sound
- Throat clearing
- A combination of humming and gargling
This happens even when he’s eating. Imagine, if you will, a child with cereal in his mouth and humming at the same time.
Yesterday, I think I said, “Aiden, mouth noises!” at least 15 times and that was after ignoring it as long as I possibly could. I’m told that several of CareerMom’s nieces and nephews do the humming while eating thing, so I blame her naturally.
And at any rate, I only had facial ticks when I was a kid (like licking your lips so much that it created a half moon raw spot above and/or below your lips) rather than audible ticks.
Whatever the cause, clearly my fussing at him isn’t working. Here’s to hoping he outgrows it.
It seems that every generation gets a label these days. Kids in the early 20s now are called “Gen Y’ers” and they are the social media age. Apparently, they don’t have the same sense of entitlement that we Gen X’ers supposedly have, though I’m really not sure where that “entitlement” label came from. Gen Y’ers are also supposed to be more driven, crave positive feedback and generally don’t feel the need to slave 50 hours a week at a meaningless job (bully for them!). Interestingly, they also seem less familial-inclined, which is a stark departure from my generation.
But even though my world revolves around my family, I struggle with the line between parent and play-buddy. On the one hand, I look back on my own childhood–one where I was generally an only child and if there was playing to be done, it was usually done alone. My parents just weren’t involved. On the other hand, I don’t want the same for my own children, so I DO try to do things with them frequently and when you add in Career-Mom’s near-constant need to get out of the house and do something, it seems like we’re always on the go.
I struggle with this balance. For example today…we played outside with the kids for about an hour, then we took them down to the science museum. When we got home, they wanted me to ride bikes with them. Really? After everything we JUST did…?
So back to my quandry…I want to be with my kids and I don’t want them to look back on THEIR childhood–like I do mine–and feel like all their dad ever did was work around the house, but at the same time, I HAD my childhood already. Can I just enjoy my adulthood a bit? And can’t that mean that I don’t have to play with my kids and when I don’t, can I do it without guilt?
I’ll let you know how that works out. So far, I’m riddled with guilt.
There is a part of me that is both horrified, and gratified, by the knowledge that television is a big part of my kids’ lives. I honestly don’t know what my kids would do at the end of a long day without it…or what I would do without it.
There are days, that one or more of my children will come home from school or daycare, and pretty much watch TV from the moment we come in, through dinner, and until we put them to bed. Now granted, often that’s really only like, two hours, but still…right?
And as much as it makes me want to gag admitting this, there are many a day when I’m more than happy to relegate my parental obligations to our 46” family friend. He’s a good friend.
But I don’t know…Lord, I watched a lot of TV when I was a kid and I’m pretty OK. I get as much exercise as my schedule will allow. I don’t eschew my job, family or other responsibilities in favor of watching “my show.” So I don’t know…I guess as long as your kids aren’t lard-arses and when you do pull them away from the tube to interact with other people, they aren’t complete Asbergers, then it’s OK?
I have an unnatural aversion to old people. I know a lot of people shy away from old people out of some desire not to interact with the inevitable, but mine is really more of an aversion I think, than just a simple “ick” influence. And I think I know where it started…
When I was young, my brother and I would spend a couple of weeks each summer with my grandparents in North Carolina. This was back when the airline industry was revered and you got those cool little gold “Delta” wings when you flew. We were only like, 6 and 9 years old then (I was 6) and we flew by ourselves. The crew always made sure we were safely tucked on board and they walked us off the plane upon arrival into the waiting arms of my grandparents. The funny thing was, once there, we didn’t do a whole lot with my grandparents and because of that, I gravitated to my grandfather’s sister, Aunt Marjorie.
She was old back then even. But she lived in the house with my grandparents and pretty much acted like the maid, butler and all-around babysitter. I loved her like…well, like nobody really. I slept in her room in a twin bed on the other side of the nightstand from her and at the crack of dawn, we’d both get up and start making breakfast. I can still smell the frying bacon and taste the cool, graininess of the homemade apple sauce that she’d bring up from the bare-earth basement.
But once breakfast was done and the house chores were finished, often Aunt Marjorie and I would go for a drive. In her younger years, she worked at the Biltmore House and we would often drive around the estate and she’d rattle off how she used to do so and so there, and over there she took care of this or that. We’d also usually drive parallel to the French Broad River—a deep, fast river that runs from North Carolina to Tennessee and that I simply loved.
On rare occasions, we would stop by one of the many volunteer stations where my Aunt worked and one day we went to an old folks’ home. We didn’t stay long, but I remember walking in with her and being told to “stand right there” while she dropped off some covered dish or something. She turned to speak to someone and, like all little boys, I had to look around and see what was going on. There were old people everywhere, which was fine…I was OK. But then, this old lady about ten feet away, sitting in a chair, beckoned to me and said, “Come here. Come here little boy.” Now, being used to doing what adults told me, I obeyed. I walked over to her, a bit stiffly and she reached out and with preternatural strength, wrapped me in a sinewy, old-lady bear hug and began to squeeze the ever-lovin’ life outta me!
I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t call out. After what seemed like ages, finally someone noticed what was going on and a bunch of them came running over and had to literally pry the old lady off of me.
I was scared…shaken, and apparently never the same again. Today, I like old people from a distance. And I like old people in general, but there becomes a point at which I go from looking at them as just older versions of myself, and start seeing them as these not-quite-human “things” that I’d just as soon avoid. And this is bad because CareerMom’s grandmother has recently taken a turn for the worse and has been here visiting. We’ve done a couple of big family get-togethers and while everyone else is gathered around her trying to make the most of her remaining time, I have to literally force myself to even go into the room—and it shames me. I pray she hasn’t noticed with everyone else gathered around. To cover myself, I follow the kids around, pretending to be watching them, when really, I’m avoiding.
I know…one day it’ll be me in that chair and I’ll wish I could reach out and squeeze my grandkids. I pray I’m still lucid enough to show some restraint.
My oldest son has developed a seemingly irrational fear of thunderstorms. True, we’ve had our share recently. Already, it’s been an unusually active season, and summer just started. But still, we’re not even talking dark clouds and high winds–no, from the moment he gets up in the morning, he’s peering at the sky and if there’s a hint of even puffy white clouds up there, he heads for weatherchannel.com.
In my infinite parental wisdom, I’ve decided that I have no blame here. No, I blame school. I blame those snotty little five year olds who come on the P.A. system every morning and tell the rest of the student body what the weather is going to be. And then I blame the school system for too many dad-blamed storm drills. A couple of times this past school year, by the time he got off the bus in the afternoon, storms or no, he was already wild-eyed and near tears over the fact that there was a ‘chance’ of evening thunderstorms.
Now this goes hand in hand with another fear that seems to have come out of nowhere…and that being, that we’re going to leave him alone. I can’t tell you how many times in the past six months I’ve had to answer, “Where’s mommy?” or “Where are you going?” And heaven forbid, when you drop him off at the kids’ play area at the gym while you work out, that you’re even a minute later than you told him you’d be–NIAGARA FALLS!
OK, maybe I share a little of the blame here–but indirectly. As a child I was also a bit of a worry-er. But the things I worried about were just a tad more serious that this stuff. And by serious, I mean like, “Oh crap, what now?” kind of stuff.
But I didn’t worry about the weather.
In retrospect, I suppose if he’s going to be worried about something, it could be worse. But we’ve tried reassurance; we tried fussing at him; nothing seems to work. And while I know that mostly he’ll grow out of it, I know I still carry some of my childhood worries with me today. Even now, when I hear footsteps above me in the house coming towards me, for just a second, my gut clenches up and my heart jumps ahead. I wish I knew how to take these fears away from him.
Hmm, I’m sure I’m the first parent to have ever said THAT.