Tuesday, September 09, 2008

It's All About Me, Baby

I've made no secret that my work over the past few months has (high-pitched falsetto voice) sucked, but this week has taken the cake. I've been called in the past two nights (on my days off) to help put out raging fires, the equivalent of throwing a bucket of water on the towering inferno. Needless to say, I'm stressed. My heart feels like it's tied in a double knot, and I'm waking up every morning at 3 am and tossing and turning until 6. So in my free mornings, for the time being, I've decided it's "me" time. I'm going to do the things I "want" to do instead of the things I feel like I "need" to do. That is until I become totally swamped with those "need to do" items, but we'll cross that bridge when we get to it.

I'm watching movies. Yesterday's feature was the uplifting Into the Wild, the true story of Christopher McCandless, who died of starvation in the Alaskan wilderness. Great movie. Bad timing.

This morning I'm shooting for something a little more lighthearted, something like, say, Julie Taymor's hallucinogenic rock musical, Across the Universe. I'll let you know how it goes.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Little Things

Kyra tied her shoes all by herself this morning. Both of them. And I wasn't even badgering her about it. Just told her to put her shoes on. She usually puts them on, tightens the laces, then waits for me to finish the job. "You're going to have to learn to do this on your own someday," I chide. She just sighs and rolls her eyes.

But not today.

Today she put her shoes on while I brushed her hair, making life difficult for me as her little body bobbed and weaved, little hands navigating shoes on little feet. I usually tell her to knock it off, to wait until I'm done brushing, that it's hard to hit a moving target. But today I didn't. Don't know why. It seemed like an eternity for her to get those shoes on, but I soon discovered why. She raised her head enough for me to see her imperfectly tied right shoe. "Is it tight enough for you?" I asked. She pulled on the shoe, testing it, then nodded. Then she went to work on the left one.

I watched her as she worked. Bunny ear, bunny ear, around the tree and through the hole. My critical instincts screamed at me...the bunny ears are too small...the ends are too long...she'll never have enough slack to go for the double knot...and I even reached out to give her a hand. Twice. But each time, for some unknown reason, I told my critical inner being to suck it and leave her alone. Instead, I chose to listen to that other, smaller, wiser voice that said, Let her do it herself. I wish I did that more often. Because the payoff was huge.

"Daddy, I tied both of my shoes! All by myself!"

Her face beamed with pride and amazement and wonder, which made me want to hug her and cuddle her and never let my baby girl go. Never let her go. But I have to, little by little. She needs to learn how to do things on her own, in her own way. That can be a tough parenting pill to swallow. I released her from my bear hug and she skipped through the door wearing shoes with the bunny ears just barely peeking through the double knots and the long ends of her shoelaces flapping freely in the breeze. Not how I would have done it. But that's OK.

Really. It's OK.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Child Labor Day

Here at the Battered Ham residence, we decided to apply a literal interpretation to the Labor Day holiday and put the girls to work. Assigning housework to the girls is a little hit or miss: some days they really want to help and get into it, most days, not. Yesterday we happened to catch them on a good day, probably because Diane and I were already working. Diane took the inside while I conquered backyard weeds spurred on by a month's worth of monsoon rains. My back hurts.

The MVP of Child Labor Day had to be Kyra. She attacked the house with gusto and positive mental attitude. She washed dishes. She picked up her room. She also volunteered to clean the most god-forsaken room in the house: the bathroom. Kyra couldn't wait to get at it, following closely on Diane's heels and inquiring in a frenzied, high-pitched voice, "Can I clean the toilet too?"

Bless her heart.

Nobody wants to clean toilets. They're dirty and gross and smelly and disgusting, and ours has that stubborn hard water ring around it that you have to scrub and scrub and scrub and scrub some more but you never fully get rid of it. Diane and I usually have a contest to see who can withstand the disgustingness of the toilets the longest before the other caves in and cleans the darn things. I usually win. No more! Now (for the time being) we have a willing champion of toilets in our household...Kyra the Brave!

We realize that Kyra's fascination with toilet-cleaning is a flash in the pan at best, and that we need to capitalize on her willingness to clean as much as possible. What she needs is incentive. This is where my brilliant wife came up with a plan. At one point I checked in on Kyra, toilet brush in hand, to see how she was doing.

"Dad, guess what?"

"What, Sweetie."

"Mom says if I put on rubber gloves, I can touch the toilet water!"

I heard her, I just didn't quite believe her. "What?"

"Mom's getting me rubber gloves so I can touch the toilet water!" she repeated with a maniacal giggle.


Sure enough, as I emerged into the hallway, I passed Diane who was carrying a pair of yellow rubber cleaning gloves. We just looked at each other, grinned, and shrugged. I love my wife. If that's the price we have to pay for sparkly clean toilets, I say ring us up!


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