Hero Daddy

Sometimes the heroic thing is not what you do, but what you choose not to do.

So tonight I was putting the kids to bed, and while they were getting ready, I was working on laundry. I came back and tucked Ollie in, and Evelyn was in the bathroom. So I did what anybody would do in that situation: I sprinted into her room and dove behind her bed, the better to jump-scare her.

Now, this all happened in a split second, so I didn’t really have time to formulate a plan: when you see an opportunity, you have to seize it! As I crouched there, hiding, I vaguely thought maybe I would wait until she got into bed and then reach up under her covers and grab her leg.

Except the minute she came in the room and tentatively called, “Daddy…?” I realized I had made a terrible mistake. Grabbing her leg after she was in bed would be TERRIFYING! What was I thinking? Who would even do that?? She would never be able to sleep again! I was hiding on the side where the closet is, which is already terrifying enough on its own; even to jump out and say, “boo!” would probably scar her for life.

She was already coming into the room, and now I was trapped. It was getting to the point that if I moved, or even so much as breathed, it was going to be just as scary. I wracked my brain for any kind of non-threatening way to notify her of my presence, crouched on the other side of her bed. Not even to explain why I was there — that train had left the station — but even to just get over the initial, “Hey, it’s me crouching over here on the side of your bed trying to scare you, not some axe murderer or monster or anything!”

And apparently what my brain came up with was to make a high-pitched, “merp!” (Evelyn later said, “Were you trying to make a guinea pig noise??”)

And it was so ridiculous and non-threatening that it totally worked, and we both had a good laugh over it, and nobody peed their pants, and nobody got scarred for life, so basically I am a hero who single-handedly saved my daughter from a lifetime of PTSD and therapy YOU’RE WELCOME EVELYN.

What were you parents even DOING in the 60s??

So the other day I was reading to Alex from Ramona the Pest, by Beverly Cleary. For the most part it holds up. Still a great book. However, there are times when you can definitely tell this book was written in a different age.

Last night there was a particular scene, when Ramona’s sister Beezus has a dentist appointment. Ramona’s mom tells Ramona that she’s got to stay home by herself until quarter past 8, and then walk herself to school, and then just leaves to take Beezus to the dentist. Ramona, being in KINDERGARTEN, is not exactly clear on what “quarter past 8” means, and accidentally leaves late, arriving after school has already started. The whole thing is presented very matter of fact, as if to say “ha ha, kids are so dumb! They can’t even get themselves to kindergarten by themselves!”

WHAT. THE. HECK??

Look, I know it was a different time and all, but it wasn’t THAT different. Did people actually do this in the 60s? Just be like, “alright kid, you’re 5 years old…guess you’re on your own!” Ah, kindergarten…time to push that baby bird out of the nest and let them learn to fly, am I right?

You can accuse modern parents of “helicoptering” all you want, but telling a kid who¬†doesn’t even yet know how to tell time she’s responsible for getting herself out the door and to school on her own seems a little bit crazy. On the other hand, I don’t know; maybe kindergarteners really were capable of that kind of independence once upon a time. Maybe my “modern sensibilities” are stunting the growth of my kids?

Or, maybe the 60s was a lawless time where parents were INSANE??

In which Ollie is hungry and the Tooth Fairy is (inadvertently) a jerk

Oliver lost a tooth the other day, and naturally put it under his pillow for the tooth fairy. On the way up to bed, the Tooth Fairy snuck in to “retrieve the package”. It was naturally pretty dark, so she was confused when she started pulling out sticky lumps from under his pillow. Dried cranberries? And peanut butter pretzels?

“He is sneaking food into his bed!” Sara told me afterwards. “The other day I found a plate of tortilla chips in his closet!”

Now, as background, I should tell you that Ollie is pretty much always hungry and always has been. He has been known to eat a half of bag of frozen peas after dinner, just to sort of top himself off. (Yes, he eats them frozen! No time to wait for that microwave!) Sneaking around at night to get a little snack is not in any way out of the question for him, and if you’re going to do that anyway, socking it away for later is just good common sense.

Still, we can’t have dried cranberries and peanut butter pretzels hanging out in his bed, so the Tooth Fairy left him a little note: “Eating food in bed is bad for your teeth! Clean it up and I will come back. Yours Truly, Tooth Fairy”.

“He’s not going to admit it,” said Sara. “I bet he won’t tell us about the note.”

Sure enough, the next day I said, “So, did the Tooth Fairy come last night?” “No,” he replied. “Really? She just didn’t come?” “I guess not,” he said. Sara and I shared a knowing look.

A little while later I was talking to Evelyn.

“Remember how I made that book about tooth brushing in 2nd grade?” she said. “I had a section in there about how to get more money from the Tooth Fairy. Ollie said he’s going to try one of the ways.” “Oh yeah?” I said. “What’s one of the ways?” “Oh, like leaving a snack for the Tooth Fairy…”

It was one of those Sixth Sense moments where you look back and realize everything you thought you knew was wrong. That poor boy hadn’t been sneaking food into his bed, he had been trying to leave a snack for the Tooth Fairy (for admittedly less-than-altruistic motives, but it was sweet nonetheless). And in light of his intentions, the note the Tooth Fairy had left was…kind of jerky.

The Tooth Fairy naturally felt terrible about all of this, so the next night she tried to rectify the situation:

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Ollie didn’t mention that note either, but he did say the Tooth Fairy had visited him in the night.

As for the carrots, I presume he’s saving them under his pillow for a little midnight snack…

Being the younger brother

As an oldest child, I didn’t have older siblings to teach me things. Naturally, I set a sterling example for MY brother and sister, but obviously that is not always the case. Lately Alex has picked up things that…well, let’s just say it didn’t take much work to figure out where he’d learned it from.

For one thing, he has been running around with a toy sword, pointing it at people and saying, “pew pew!” Pretty sure he didn’t learn that from Sara and me. He also is prone to sobbing “No fair!” when he doesn’t get his way (okay, that one he *might* have gotten from me).

On the other hand, being the youngest might have advantages. Alex certainly was the easiest of our children to potty train, and I don’t know if that’s because of something about his personality, or if he just has a whole lot of examples to model himself after (and a whole lot of extra people to sit with him and read Little Critter and/or Clifford books over, and over, and over while he’s on the potty…)

It certainly could just be him personally. All of our kids are whip smart. It’s hard for me to remember precisely how smart they were at 20 months, and I remember being impressed by them, but Alex’s language and memory both seem to be well off the charts.

What if he’s the smartest of the three of them? I have to say…the prospect is a little frightening.

They grow up so fast

So most of you probably saw this video from over a week ago now, but I’m saving it here for posterity:

With all the new stuff that Alex is getting up to, it’s easy to forget that the other kids are growing up too!

Ollie in particular just suddenly seems so old all of a sudden. I went to get him out of class early one day for a doctors appointment and I just had to laugh. He’s in real school now! They were doing math, and then when I got there he took care of his math notebook and I was just like, “Wow, he’s like a real kid!”

In fact, Evelyn had some multiplication flash cards the other day, and Ollie was pretty dang good at them.

He has gotten so good at reading all of a sudden. I remember this with Evelyn too, but it’s like he just got to that point where he realized that there’s writing everywhere, and he can read it. He’s reading billboards, the backs of cereal boxes, and addresses on Christmas cards. It’s like a whole new world! It’s so much fun to listen to him read an Elephant and Piggie book.

He’s also a very detailed artist. He can sit and draw for HOURS, and he draws these really elaborate scenes. He loves to explain to you all the little nuances and hidden things he’s added to his drawings, and he gets very clever with them.

And if that wasn’t enough, Ollie started taking piano lessons! It seems absolutely crazy to me, but there it is. He is so excited about it! I can tell he feels grown up too; he’s very proud. And even songs like “Mary Had a Little Lamb” seem so impressive when this little boy is playing them!

Not too long now before he starts writing his own blog!