Monday, September 20, 2010

Top Ten Techniques for Swingers

In no real order, here are ten creative techniques for swinging a kid at the playground:

10. Ironman - I push a girl with one hand, executing one big push, and end up in a stance like Ironman always is after he shoots a 'repulser ray' from his palm. "Take that, evil-doer!" I think this one started because I would, trying to entertain myself, mutter 'Ironman!' somewhat under my breath. Now the girls ask for it by name - although they may have no idea who Ironman actually is.

9. Don't Drop the Baby - I hold a girl my arms like a baby (as she is still in the swing), give them lots of baby-talk and goo-goo's, then say, "But don't drop the baby," and... drop the 'baby'. To the girls this macabre act is, for some reason, apparently an absolute riot. Nothing like dropping babies to make people laugh, I always say.

8. BIG Pull/Push - I grab the swing by the chains, right next to the girl, yank back and let 'er rip! Usually a nice swing starter, sort of like the opening salvo of fireworks which is actually rather lame, but seems cool because it's just first.

7. Underdog - The classic. I pull the kiddo back, run really fast and push 'em up and over as I run underneath. The girls squeal with delight - as I immediately worry that I've either just dumped a girl upside down into the dirt from nine feet up or launched her into a tree.

6. Big Smack - While the girls are swinging in a small child's swing (the kind with the bucket-like seat) I imitate a pro wrestler and crank up the fanfare. "You want some of this, HUH!?!?" As they swing close, I do a big pose, smack my hands a couple of times together and then, just at the apex of their swing, I smack the front of the swing so it makes a good, solid 'smack!' sound - and also gives them a push. Usually also followed by a big faux pro wrestling rant, like "OH YEAH! BIG DADDY MADNESS!"

5. Knee/Foot Push - Stand in front of the girls, and push their knees or outstretched feet. Used primarily to actually see them as we talk about coloring, snacks, best friends, best-best friends, best-best-best-best friends EVER, stinky boys, etc.

4. Roller-Coaster - A Sally Grimes invention with great drama. Hold the top of the swing, start to slowly walk forward while making sounds like a roller coaster as the car is being chain-driven to the top of the first hill, push the girl back until you are completely extended, arms locked out, and holding her up in the air as high as you can. Then get out of the way. Peals of delighted laughter ensue.

3. Booty Smack - The name says it all. Really. Like all things involving the butt, this one is always a good 'go to' source of laughs.

2. Metronome - This should only be attempted by an advanced daddy. It's when you've mastered the normally pedestrian 'regular push' but can actually do it with TWO kids, having them so perfectly off-sync from each other, that you can push one with the left hand, then the other with the right, then the first with the left, then back to the right. Seeing it in action is just a thing of beauty, really... it's just... moving to see that kind of mad daddy skill...

1. (This one probably is the girls' #1 favorite:) Kick Daddy! - Like with all things, fake injuries to dad are the most fun! They swing back and try to kick me as I execute all sorts of dramatic and over-the-top moves to avoid the 'deadly feet' that are trying to knock my block off!!! (And if that seems like too many exclamation points, it's because I was imagining the 1970's-style promotional copy on the box such a 'game' might come in.)

How to add drama:

One for the money - Before any swing, simply countdown to blast-off or do a 'One for the money, two for the show...' count. Easy and yet brings forth lots of absolute bug-eyed anticipation and giggling.

Broken Coaster - Just as you reach the full extension of your body during a 'Roller Coaster', with the girl stuck in the air, you tell her the coaster is broken. Luckily, my girls are pretty well versed in mechanical repairs, canting the magical, "Fix. Fix. Fix." to take care of the problem. They are, like, better than MacGyver at fixing stuff. Really.

Taunting - "You want WHAT? Ironman? You're not READY for Ironman! Why, you're just a little GIRL. And you think you can handle an... IRONMAN? Pfffft - WHAT-EVER!" Ah, the drama of it all... too much fun.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Who's Got A Woody?

One of the greatest things about kids it just the natural comedy that they can sometimes, at even the most mundane of moments bring to a home. To wit:

Two nights ago Sally made 'Toy Story' mac 'n cheese for the girls for dinner. The meal includes some of the Toy Story characters in it, including good ole 'Woody'. As we sat down to dinner, suddenly the girls excitement for the new mac 'n cheese bubbled over, with some unintended innuendo thrown in (mostly fed by their immature dad).

Sylvia [her fork in the air, waving about, with a skewered piece of pasta on the end]: "Wook, I have Woody!"

Lillian: "I have a Woody too!"

Dad: "You what? What do you have there!?!"

Both: "A Woody! I have a Woody!"

Dad: "That is so cool that you guys have a Woody!"

Sally: [Pretty much can't speak because she's trying to reign in her laughter.]

Dad: "Sally, did you hear what the girls have? Girls, what do you have there!?!?"

Girls: "A Woody! We've got Woody!"

Dad: "Who's got a Woody? Do you guys have a Woody? Sally, the girls both have a Woody!"

Sylvia: "I've got TWO Woody's!"

Dad: "Sally, Sylvia has TWO Woody's! Well, you can't have enough Woody's in life, that's what I always say! Lillian, do you have a Woody?!?!"

Sally: [Is pretty much vibrating, she's laughing so hard but still trying to hold it in.]

Lillian: "Wait, I can't find my Woody... OH, here's one! I've got a Woody!"

Dad: "Three cheers if you've got a Woody!"

Well, they won't be handing out an awards to this dad for either maturity OR propriety any time soon... And that's just fine by me.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Little Miss Sunshine

Sally was getting ready the other day while Lillian, as she often does, was bouncing on our bed to some of Sally's urban-pop-hiphop-dance-funk-rap music. Lillian was wearing a bathing suit and a long white 'Snow Princess' skirt (don't ask) and says,

"Momma, I'm going to dance for you now. Then I'm going to take off my skirt, hold it up above my head and swing it around. Then I'm going to throw it to you!"

So glad that Lillian is already, at such a young age, exploring ALL her vocational options.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

Mine is a world of cycles.

Actually it's a world of cycles within cycles... within cycles.

The day starts like this: If I'm lucky (and not hungover), I get up early to have a little 'me time' and maybe write a bit or get some work done (which is clearly not 'me time' at that point). Then the girls get up and the cycles start.

First we wake 'em up, then try to feed 'em: 'Okay, who wants juice? Both of you do? Okay, Lillian, your waffle is in the toaster and yes, I know you want 'extra syrup'. Here's your juice Sylvia. Lillian yours is already on the counter. Sylvia, what do you want? Sylvia, what do you want to eat? Are you hungry? You are going to school soon, so you need to eat. Sylvia, what do you want for breakfast? Broccoli? (The kid actually loves broccoli, which she pronounces 'bocky'.) No, we're not making broccoli for you. How about a waffle? Cereal? Drink yogurt? Luna bar? Spoon yogurt? Squeeze yogurt? Yogurt smoothie? No, you can't have peanuts... actually here are your peanuts.' (This is an abridged version of our usual food conversations with Sylvia by the way. Usually they last several minutes longer than this.) Cycle #1 complete... sort of.

Then we get them ready. Undies? Check. Acceptable clothing (no light up cowgirl boots on 97-degree days, no summer dresses in a snowstorm, nothing that doesn't totally clash, etc.)? Check. Hair, teeth? Check, check. Then shoes, backpack, lunches packed. Check, check, check. Then all previously mentioned items: 2 girls (dressed), 2 backpacks, 2 lunches (packed), 2 pairs of kids shoes (on feet) all loaded into the Prius. Assigned adult at the wheel, lucky adult kisses girls good-bye. Cycle #2 done.

Now mind you, on any given day, any one of the aforementioned items (shoes, teeth, lunch contents, etc.) can either suddenly become a huge battle (Lillian: 'But I HATE the collar on this shirt! HATE IT HATE IT HATE IT.') and/or a huge source of consternation. ('Sylvia, I have asked you seven - no, now EIGHT times - to get your shoes on.' 'No Sylvia, you cannot bring the cat to school, put her down!' 'Sylvia, WHERE ARE YOUR CLOTHES?')

And, on any given day, at least three of the aforementioned items actually will become an issue. The only question on any given day is, will it be minor or major?

Oh, and the last one, about Sylvia taking her clothes off is currently a given each day. At some point, maybe even after dressing her and getting her ready in her school clothes, she'll come around a corner, stark naked, singing her new favorite song, "I naked, I naked, I a naked girl, I naked," over and over again. It's super cute - on days that we're not running late. And there are no days where we aren't running late.

Cycle #3: drive the girls to school, get in the drop-off line, drop them off successfully, watch them walk hand-in-hand down the sidewalk into the preschool section of their school. Pull away from the curb and either:
1. Gloat with pride at just how cute/awesome/amazing they are
2. Immediately get your stomach in your throat with fear that 'something' will happen to them while they are at school
3. Fight back a tear because of just how cute/awesome/amazing they are
4. All of the above

The next cycle, #4, is - unfortunately - optional: get to gym. This one often doesn't happen because work is backed up, either one of us is just coming back from or going to a trade show, we're tired (aka hungover), or just generally feel like crap (gee, I wonder why? SEE: all other posts here).

Then I attempt to cram a 12-hour work day into 8.647 hours. (Mind you, this cycle has its own intricate complexities, frustrations, stresses, successes, etc. of course but, for the purposes of our home-life, it's just one more cycle to start, work through, and complete.) Sally, who is part-time will continue the school cycle by also picking up Sylvia at 10:30 (her preschool is only three hours) then collect her, buckle her up, drive, unbuckle her, and deposit her at an in-home daycare. She then attempts to cram an 8-hour day into about four hours. She then picks up both girls on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 2:30 - or at 4:30 on other days. (We like to keep it complicated. It makes it all even more fun.) Cycle #5 done.

Cycle #6: make dinner. Repeat previous food conversation with Sylvia but switch 'bocky' with 'waffle', as in: 'Sylvia, what do you want for dinner? No, you can't have a waffle. How about broccoli?' Then repeat that conversation several more times with Sylvia.
Lillian on the other hand will go something like this: "No, I HATE mac-n-cheese!" (Suddenly one day, after years of loving something like mac-n-cheese and asking for it 70% of all meals, she despises it. Bam! Like that. This generally happens immediately after Sally and I finally say, 'Let's just stock up on [insert girls' food of choice here] and get a TON of it.')

With cycle #7 we attempt to get children to actually EAT the dinner they just requested. This requires several conversations about what food should go where on their little (cute) segmented kids plates, what food is DISGUSTING or not (Lillian), why you should not show people the food you are currently eating (Sylvia), and several trips to get different kinds of water, in different kinds of cups, with/without ice, etc. Just as we've finally gotten them just what they want and we're both sitting down to actually eat, the girls are done eating and want to go bounce on the couch.

Cycle #8: sigh heavily and imagine what bar I'd like to go stay the rest of the night (or week)

Then we clean up. I fight urge to eat the girls leftover food (sliced apples, half peanut butter and honey sandwiches, etc.) rather than waste it and try to decide what food is actually worth trying to save (extra mac-n-cheese is useless for example, because they will not eat reheated mac-n-cheese, no matter how much we doctor it up). Cycle #9, check!

After maybe 30-45 minutes of actual play and fun stuff with them (or, more realistically, an errand or folding laundry or taking out all the trash), it's Cycle #10: bath time. Get them naked, get the tub full, get them in the tub, get them 'washed', stop them from fighting over a toy, maybe wash hair (an apparently horrifying, deadly ordeal for them both, thus often avoided), stop them from fighting over a toy, let them play while we both get into pj's and brush our own teeth, then get pissed that they are still fighting over said toy, get them out and try to get them dry-ish.

Cycle #11: undies on, PJ's on, teeth brushed, last pee, pick out one book each. Lucky parent kisses girls goodnight, other parent lies down with them, reads books, turns off light and lies/sits with them until they are asleep. (Yes, we STILL have not weened them off us being in the room, or even the bed, with them as they fall asleep. Hey, don't judge. It's on 'the list' of things to do... someday. This fall maybe. It's time, really.)

Cycle #12: attempt to sleep.

Then we start all over again with #1.

Every day, day after day. Lather, rinse, repeat. Lather, rinse, repeat. Lather, rinse - you get it.

And if you think weekends are much different, they aren't. And actually they are harder than weekdays (yeah, GONE is the thought of 'recharging' on the weekends). For a weekend day, you simply replace Cycles #3 and #5 with this one:

Attempt to read paper. Scan headlines. Recycle paper. Discuss the day with Sally, attempt to prioritize doing 'something fun' with the girls. Choose said activity and try to fit it around all other necessary activities of the weekend: mowing lawn, grocery shopping, general errands to get more household supplies, possible odd errand like having to ship a box or deal with a license plate issue, etc. Run through all activities too quickly. Eat out too often. Fight voice inside head that says, 'You know, I could start drinking right now,' all day long. Eventually give in around 4pm and start drinking. Throw on a movie, pray that girls fall asleep to said movie so that you can actually skip Cycles #10 and #11. Girls don't fall asleep, but you skip #10 anyway and go right for #11. #12 actually becomes, 'pass out'.

Lather, rinse, repeat. Lather, rinse, repeat. Over and over and over and over again. These cycles make a day cycle, seven day cycles make a week cycle, and onward.

And by the time the cycles finally start to slow down and you might have time to actually enjoy spending time with them, they are 12 and have already started to resent you. But, at least then we'll get to read a book.

Bed Hoppin'

Here's a typical atypical bed progression for a night:

8:30 PM - Sally puts both girls down in Lillian's bed (we have a bed for Sylvia but it's primary purpose these days is to hold sheets and a comforter that match her room 'perfectly') and Sally dozes off with them

9:30 - Sally moves to our king-sized bed in our bedroom, with Sylvia - who still hasn't gone to sleep yet. Sally is half-asleep yet half-pissed at Sylvia.

10:00 - I get into bed. Have to move Sylvia and her bear 'Snazzy' to get a spot. Dogs join me, deciding that they are far more comfortable lying on/over/around me, thereby making me claustrophobic and driving me out of the bed (per their nefarious doggie plans...)

10:11 - Decide to crash in girls bed, with Lillian, since that will keep her down in that bed (because if she wakes up, she'll cuddle up next to me and know that someone is there and then NOT head into the big bed - plus it's cute/fun to cuddle with her before she turns 12 and starts to hate me)

10:15 - Fall asleep. Have really bizarre dream where I'm in a giant video game, jumping up these lava rivers from floating stone to floating stone to finally arrive at my destination: a really pimped out TGIF/McDonald's that serves giant scones and '100 types of rose tea'. Oh, and I'm in high school, it's gym day, and not only have I forgotten my gym clothes, but I'm totally naked sitting at a table, until I scrounge a t-shirt and a towel. (WTF? Note to self: seek therapy.)

3:22 AM - wake up in Lillian's bed, realize that I'm in Lillian's bed and seek to cuddle a bit to reassure her that someone is there, thus keeping her in her bed longer so that she sleeps better and Sally is prevented from having too many kids/dogs/cats in the big bed and thus she sleeps longer too! Hey, I'm just that kind of thoughtful, caring dad.
I reach over. Lillian is not there.
She's in the big bed.
I chuckle in order to stave off typical dad frustrations, then close my eyes.

3:28 AM - realize there is no way in hell I'm actually going to go back to sleep. Get up and head to my office to get some work done.

3:28:34 AM - See a light on in Sally's office. She's working too. Woke up at 1AM and couldn't get back to sleep either.

Final tally: one, very large, nicely comfy adult king sized bed with no adults in it. Two kids beds with no kids in them. Four or so dog beds without a single dog on them. The dogs are in the adult's bed, cuddled with the kids, there is no one in the kids beds, and the adults are both up in their offices, working (or blogging).

Just another typical atypical night at the Chimes House.