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The Pitter-Patter of Tiny Feet …

by on Jun.02, 2010, under family, parenthood

… is not nearly as innocent as it sounds.  I find lately that it is the sound to which I am awaken – often followed with cries for help that are disproportionate to the need behind them.  Often it is Grasshopper, usually between 6 and 7 AM (sometimes earlier), always much louder than is necessary or appropriate at such an hour, and typically related to something minor or for which our assistance shouldn’t be needed (e.g., he can’t find his toy that he fell asleep with that he is likely sitting on, or he has to go potty – which he cries as he is dancing 8 inches from the toilet).  Though I often find the small footsteps that are followed by no other sounds much more anxiety-raising – you would think it would be a positive sign, but it rarely is.

This morning I was awoken by such a sound at the surprisingly late hour of 7:30AM.  As I braced myself for the possibilities as I walked down to the second floor, I find my children both sitting on my son’s bed (wearing matching nightshirts – would be cute if not for the mischief that seemed to be brewing between them).  I decide to avoid asking what they are up to in favor of diffusing their plans with the enticement of television and breakfast.  As we walk downstairs – Cricket zooming in front of me, Grasshopper bounding behind me – I suddenly feel a small projectile strike the back of my head and bound over the railing to the floor below.  I turn to my son and calmly but firmly express that we don’t throw things at people, to which he responds with a tone of innocence “but it was only a weapon”.  Clearly the implication of this word has not been fully grasped by his 3 1/5 year-old brain.

To be fair though, even their mischief is innocent at the core of it.  The kids are typically good and mean well.  And all of the growling and pelting by projectiles melts away when I see your son hugging my anxiety-ridden wife and telling her everything will be okay (long story) or when my daughter decides to commission me to help her make Mommy breakfast in bed “just because we love her.”

So yes, those little feet can have many implications – joy as they dart to welcome me home from work, jubilant mischief as they scurry to hide on to jump out and tackle me when I come near, or devilish mayhem as they cross the threshold of a department store.  I’ll take them all, though I wouldn’t mind if my morning alarm clock had some sort of snooze button – occasionally I wouldn’t mind sleeping in.

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Food Horizons

by on Apr.05, 2010, under family, health, parenthood

I was always a finicky eater.  As a kid I probably disliked more foods than I liked.  I would eat spaghetti with butter and grated cheese rather than sauce.  I wouldn’t eat anything that contained onions, peppers, mushrooms, or beans.  I’ve gotten better over time both through some forceful nudging by my parents and my own expanded spirit of food exploration.  And at this point there are very few things I won’t eat (though I’m still not a huge fan of peppers or onions – mostly a texture thing, though – I don’t mind the flavors).

But now I have kids of my own, and the last thing I want to do is to pass my own food aversions on to them.  So I’ve made a point of exposing them gradually to a variety of foods in these formative years and trying not let my own food preferences influence their own.  I’m currently working on gradually breaking down Cricket’s spice aversion (she is learning that spices aren’t always spicy, and can make foods tastier), and exposing them to some vegetable options my own parent never pushed on us (e.g., brussel sprouts).  I also recently fooled her (and myself) into eating mushrooms by finely chopping some and replacing a 3rd of the meat in a lasagna with them (I also added a good amount of spinach – it was quite good and I didn’t tell her until after she was finishing a second helping).

Grasshopper is a bit of a different nut t o crack, though.  He will actually eat a number of veggies without a problem.  And whereas Cricket I need to force to drink milk every day, Grasshopper will chug it day and night.  But he is not a big fan of meat.  This is not truly a bad thing – there is nothing wrong with a diet of mostly produce as long as the proteins get in there somewhere.  He is only 3, so I figure it is a phase he will eventually (at least partially) outgrow.  I can now add another non-meat protein source to the list of things he likes, though.  My mom came to visit for the weekend, and due to her own digestive health she came with groceries.  Upon departure, we were left with two cartons of Silk soy milk (one chocolate, one vanilla).  I’m not really a fan and neither is my wife, but I’d hate to just toss it.  So as an experiment, I gave some to Grasshopper the next time he asked for ‘choca-milk’ – he guzzled it down as if it were no different.  And both last night and this morning, he asked for a cup of ‘soil milk’.

I’m sure my kids will develop their own tastes and food aversions – we all have them (I know I still do).  I’ll continue to fight the important food fights (e.g., wanting a treat every time the ice cream man drives down the street).  But luckily so far neither of them are too finicky (at least not as finicky as I was).

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Happy Birthday, Cricket!

by on Dec.16, 2009, under family, parenthood

Cricket at play as Alice at the Please Touch Museum

Cricket at play as Alice at the Please Touch Museum

Today my Cricket turned 6 years old.  It is weird to see you becoming a little lady so fast.  It is hard to believe that those days of making you giggle on your bouncer was so long ago.  Now you are in Kindergarten learning to read and write and do math.

We had a party for you this past weekend – we had a bunch of your friends both from school and from our old stomping grounds up near Allentown (your mother was not too happy with me for having beer at the party, but there were as many adults present as kids).  As I sit here writing this the streamers and banners are still hanging in the doorway, only feet from the Christmas tree and the stockings.  Also as I sit here, I can feel the dinner and ice cream from Friendly’s sitting heavy in my stomach.

I have to say that there is no way to impress upon a non-parent the love that a parent has for their child.  I love my wife, I’ve loved others before, and I will always love my parents and my sisters, but none of those compare.  No other love can rival the unconditional love that is so full of hope and eager anticipation, so full of tolerance for anything and everything, so lacking in selfishness that a parent feels for a child – that I feel for you.  Always.

I love the little rituals that we share.  A part of me looks forward to giving you a kiss, a hug, and a very special bug as you leave for the prom, as you graduate from high school and college, as you walk down the aisle.   I love that we can talk about nearly anything, no matter how trivial.  I love to see you see the world through your own eyes – without my particular brand of bias – and see what conclusions you might reach of your own accord.

It is funny to see you interacting with school friends now – and how much of myself I see in you when you do.  I see some of the same shyness that I tended to have with new people, and then the same bawdiness that I tended to have with those with which I was comfortable.  You also have that same tendency to politely argue against things – with your “Well actually …”.  I love that at 6 you can use words like actually, essentially, similar, and dozens of other multisyllabic words that even I didn’t tend to use until much later.

Happy birthday, Cricket.  It is hard to believe that I’m already 1/3 of the way to having to let you go away to college.  There is so much to learn between now and then.  But so far I’m enjoying my lessons.

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My Daughter, the Rock Star

by on Nov.09, 2009, under family, music, parenthood, video games

The funny thing with kids – no matter how complete your life may have felt before, once you have kids you can’t imagine life any other way.  Cricket and I have some interesting ways that we bond.  We play video games together, we read stories together (currently we are going back and forth between Nancy Drew and Harry Potter books), and we watch the cartoons together (some of them are quite fun even for adults).  Recently the kids and I had some free time together in the evening and opted to go to some nearby shops.  After doing a round at the pet store and passing in and out of a bike shop and a mattress store (who doesn’t like to bounce on beds?), we walked into a game shop to check out what Wii games were out and coming soon.

After browsing the selection and playing a round of each of the games they have on their demo systems, my son and I turn to see his sister having put a Rock Band guitar strap over her head getting ready to play it (mind you, she has never actually played any such games – she is only 5).  She gets her hands in position and shouts to the audience of the store “I’m bringin’ the THUNDER!”

Being her 3-year-old little brother, Grasshopper had to follow suit by getting his own guitar and repeating the phrase as best he could remember it.  In hindsight, I’m glad we had gone to the stores in the order that we did, because that was a better finale to the evening than the typical ‘don’t touch that’-fest that any trip the the pet store always becomes.  This event easily washed all of that away.

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From Terrible Twos to Thrilling Threes

by on Oct.13, 2009, under family, parenthood

Today my little Grasshopper turns 3 years old.  Happy birthday, buddy!  It seemed like only yesterday you were barely crawling but trying to climb everything.  Now you are running, jumping and in constant motion (and still trying to climb everything).  You are certainly a combination of me and your mother – at times so happy and mellow, at others ready to kick butts and take names.  You are active (nearly hyperactive at times) as well as cautious and deliberate in your actions.  While I wouldn’t want to pigeon-hole you in any way, you already seem to demonstrate innate talents for sports and performance.  I look forward to continuing to watch you grow and encourage you in the things you want to pursue – no matter what those things are.  You are my boy and I love you and will always be there for you.  Happy third!!

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