Thursday, April 25, 2013

Goodbye Nap Time, You Will Be Missed

As Paige finished her lunch Monday she looked me dead in the eyes, furled her eyebrows (as her mother does all the time) and emphatically said, "I don't want to nap...never, ever!" After refusing to nap the previous week, which I attempted to shrug off as a blip on the napping radar, her outright refusal to take a mid-day siesta this week has sealed the deal - and possibly my sanity.

When Paige napped, it was always for at least two hours, sometimes three. She's a high-energy, busy, emotional child, so I cherished those hours after lunch. I'd figure out dinner. I'd clean the kitchen. I'd work on emerging freelance projects. I'd use the treadmill (when the weather was bad). I'd sit and enjoy the silence for a few minutes. Now, Paige and I have 13 to 14 consecutive hours together. No break.

And, by 4 or 5 in the afternoon, the effects of not napping takes its toll. The other day as I was getting dinner together, she asked if they could eat dinner on their little trays in front of the TV, which exclusively is a treat for them and maybe happens once a week. I said no. She then climbed on our tall kitchen chairs, screamed and berated me for several minutes with tears in her eyes, then meekly said, "Daddy...I need help getting down."

The no-napping tirades also reared their ugly head the other day when I received a call from a potential employer asking to do a phone interview at that moment, then suddenly realizing I clearly must have been waterboarding 15 toddlers as there was no other reason for the amount of desperate, agonizing screaming in the background. The caller immediately said, "Do you have time tomorrow that would be better?"

Yesterday Allison had the day off and as the three of us raced back from her mom's house to be home in time to pick up Lucy from the bus stop, Paige yelled at us the entire way. Turn the music off! My feet are cold!(it was 72 and sunny yesterday) My want my toys! My want my books! All the while I'm thinking, "My want to drive into oncoming traffic."

Three minutes before we pulled into the driveway, the only noise from the tiny dictator in the backseat was snoring. Awesome. A nap at 3 in the afternoon. Needless to say, she then was up until 9 last night but managed to burst out of bed before 6 this morning. She went through the typical routine of walking into our room, going all the way around the foot of our bed to reach my side, then poking her fingers in my face to wake me up. Why doesn't she do this to her mother, who is sleeping right near the door? I'll never know.

I do know this - Paige and I have survived these 11 weeks because we have a good system in place, a system that includes grocery shopping at 8 a.m. on Mondays, story time at the library on Monday and Tuesdays at 10 a.m...and a two-hour respite for me in the middle of the day. Now, she's amping up the craziness by a couple hours a day in an effort to claim all the power in the house.

I'm pretty sure I'm screwed. So, if you don't hear from me for a few days, just imagine a three-year-old in a glittery princess tutu standing over me, barking out orders with tears in her eyes as I duck for cover. I don't see any other way for this to turn out.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Missing Boston, Pondering The Future

I slip on my running shoes 20 minutes after finishing dinner with the family. I say I need a run to clear my head. It's been years since Massachusetts has been my official residence but it's always been my first home - and today it was under attack on the most "Massachusetts" of days. The Boston Marathon. Patriots Day. The Red Sox. Maybe I don't say it often but I do miss the hell out of that place.

I want to run because that's what runners do when something horrific happens. Obviously, being on an opposite coast, this isn't about me. But it is still my home and my sport facing tragedy, and some of the people closest to me were in the streets today running and cheering. It still affects me but it is hard to put into words. So, I want to run. You know, a casual run to break from the day.

After posting a near-effortless, fast-for-me, sub-7-minute first mile, I realize, "OK, it's going to be like this." I run hard. I run harder. I push. It makes no sense but I want to feel something. Maybe some pain? Who knows? This isn't a casual run where my mind gets to go blank.

My feet move faster below as my mind races to keep up. Why haven't I kept in better touch with my friends out east? Why haven't we visited more? Why do we get bogged down in the day-to-day minutiae and let days, weeks and months pass without reaching out? I wish I knew.

As a parent, you think about your kids during times of crisis. You want them to be safe. You question the world we live in. I read a lot of Facebook updates and tweets throughout the day wondering about the future of humanity. I don't question it because I never placed my faith in humanity in the people who carried out this cowardly act. My faith in humanity rests with former Patriot Joe Andruzzi carrying an injured person from the chaos at the finish line. It rests with Rich DeSilva, who barely made it through last year's marathon in 90-degree heat, came back this year, raised more than $10,000 for Andruzzi's children's cancer foundation and who had to end his day at the 25.5-mile marker. If I know anything, I know this - Rich's perseverance will have him running a marathon again. This is where our spirit lies.

My faith also rests in the 6-year-old who I'll walk to the bus stop in the morning. Tonight she had a "work night" as she excitedly called it where she banged out her "ch" homework, finished a Rainbow Fairies book and planned to start on her next book report. The future is bright for that kid. I do not worry about the world I'll grow old in with Lucy as part of our next generation.

And, my faith is in Paige, the 3-year-old who has taught me more in these 10 weeks at home than I've learned at any job. This is the truth - we laugh, we cry and navigate every day as only a parent and child can. She's taught me to cherish the time we have together while simultaneously pushing my every button. I've found inspiration in it even if a good chunk of this blog is dedicated to those mind-numbingly crazy moments we all have as parents. But, with her fire, passion and smarts, once again, I do not fear for our future.

My run ends up the hill into our neighborhood. My stomach is in knots. My mind is running at full throttle. I head inside with enough time to be the "closer" at Paige's bedtime after Allison finishes reading a couple of books to her. I sing her some good-night songs and give her an extra butterfly kiss. I get to read Lucy her bedtime books, then tell her a make-believe story as I do every night.

And, tomorrow, I'll wake up thinking of Boston and its incredible people again. And while some lives will never be the same, I know everyone there, including my close friends and family, will come back from this after the mourning process happens for the victims of this tragedy.

I wish I could be there with you but know you are in my thoughts, more than you realize.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

2 Much-Needed Moments To Keep Me Going

The way yesterday afternoon was moving along, I didn't expect to get one of "those moments," let alone two of them in a single evening.

Immediately after school yesterday I take Lucy, Paige and a $20-off-purchase coupon to Dick's Sporting Goods to buy Lucy her first glove for t-ball. I expect one of those happy, proud moments where I share my knowledge of the game, find the perfect glove and Lucy and I play catch for hours afterward. Instead, I lose Paige for several minutes as she climbs into a clothing rack, lifts her almost-3-year-old butt onto a crossbar inside it and becomes hidden to anyone in the store. At the same time, Lucy keeps placing too-large helmets on her head and banging aluminum bats together to drive the customers, employees and her father crazy.

Fine. I pick a glove. Then we come home and Lucy uses the glove to make five catches in the driveway, then says, "I want to ride my bike." This, of course, means getting her helmet on, digging the bike out from the depths of the garage and walking alongside her as she doesn't know how to ride without training wheels yet. After navigating 10 feet up the sidewalk, she slightly loses balance causing her foot to touch the ground. "I don't want to ride my bike. I'm going inside to read Rainbow Fairies." Why not - it's only 65 degrees and sunny outside.

OK, let's see what No. 2 is up to. "Daddy, me want to ride Dora bike!" Before Paige knocks over the boxes and tricycles in front of the Dora bike with training wheels, I lift it over her head and into the driveway. I remind her she has to push down on the pedals to make it go. This doesn't sit well with her. "No, Daddy! You push me!" This berating continues for 45 seconds until she proclaims, "Me no ride bike!" As I place the bike back in the garage, she runs full speed up the sidewalk, trips (you could see it coming) and lands flat on her stomach. Crying. Screaming. "Everyone inside!" I yell.

With Allison gone for a work dinner, I opt for making tacos. Of course, by the time I sit down, both girls have eaten all their food, are whining for "a treat" and could not care less that my taco is ice cold, and that I haven't taken a bite of it yet. Both girls go tearing upstairs to play, which usually means someone is screaming, "Daddy! She's touching my toys!" within 90 seconds.

But, finally, mercifully, "that moment" pops up around 6:30. Parents know what these moments are. The kids drive you bat-shit crazy for days on end, you question your lot in life, then you wonder why it's so quiet upstairs. My mind starts going two ways as I tip-toe up the stairs: 1) they've finally killed each other or 2) they finally have a cat cornered. Instead, I hear Lucy reading a Sesame Street book out loud and her voice is coming from Paige's room. I stick half my face around the door frame as not to disrupt the world and, I shit you not, Lucy is sitting in a chair, holding up the book as if she's a teacher and Paige is sitting on the floor listening. The Moment.

After Allison gets home, I walk with Lucy to her swimming lesson at 7:30. For weeks previously, the final five minutes of every swim class is dedicated to having the little kids (one at a time) step out to the edge of the diving board and jump into the water. Every student jumps right off except for Lucy. She stands at the end, half-squats, stands back up, shakes her head no and eventually walks off the back of the board. Last night, she walks to the edge and jumps right in. She does it three times with no hesitation.

On the walk home I gush about how proud I am that she conquered her fears and jumped into the pool. With her clothes over her wet bathing suit and still sporting her goggles (she walks home in them), Lucy reaches out her hand to hold mine. We aren't crossing a street where I require hand-holding but, with her new-found confidence and pride, she wants to hold my hand while we walk up the hill on the sidewalk. The Moment. Again.