Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Matthew, the Pirate

Matthew loves Pirates of the Caribbean at Disneyland, but he doesn't like to go on it... He'll say no every time I ask him if he wants to go on it, and since I enjoy the 14 minutes of solitude, peace and quiet to rest from tromping around the park all day, pushing 70 pounds of stroller, I'll make him go on it. He'll complain a little in line that he doesn't like the "Pirate ride," that is, until he gets in the boat and is lulled into submission by the fireflies and the twangy "Old Susannah" on the banjo. He especially loves the two initial waterfalls.

Lately, every thing he picks up has been going on a simulated "Pirate ride." For example, last night, each spoonful of frozen yogurt from Golden Spoon rode up a ramp high above his head, then came crashing down into the waterfall with a piercing scream of delight before it could go into his mouth.

All the while, he was quietly chanting in a low piratey voice: "Dead men have no tails..."

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Natalie's Wit

I'm very happy that Natalie is developing a sense of humor similar to my own. It seems that snarky sarcasm is genetic.

Today, Natalie gave me a great example.

We were looking through a book of letters that she put together at school, and each letter has an animal associated with it that she's colored in and glued to the book. We were talking about our favorite animals, and when mine wasn't represented in the book (buffalo), she asked for a few backups. I saw centipede, so I claimed that one as a favorite animal.

Then I asked her how many legs does a centipede have, and without so much as a pause, she fired back, "More than it needs."

I thought that was hilariously witty and her timing was excellent. Good for her.

Things like this make me look forward to future conversations with her!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Salvation of the Family Tree

On Saturday, one of Natalie’s friends had a birthday party at her house. It was a pool party, which pretty much guarantees that the kids will go crazy if they don’t go swimming for most of the afternoon… and that guarantees that I’ll be the life guard. I’m okay with it. I knew a total of three people at the party, and most of the rest that attended were all related to each other. At least I had a job to do.

However, I didn’t realize I would have to work so much. I thought I would merely sit at the edge of the pool, dangling my feet in the water and watching the kids while Kara kept me supplied with Diet Cokes, hamburgers and hot dogs (though watching a bunch of four- and five-year olds makes me wish for something much stronger than soda).

We had barely arrived and greeted the birthday girl and her mother, when out of the corner of my eye, a little girl was struggling to keep her head above water in the spa attached to the pool. She apparently got stuck in the middle where she couldn’t touch the bottom and couldn’t figure out how to maneuver herself to the sides. All of us noticed it pretty much at the same time, about five of us adults standing next to the pool talking, and I was about a half-second away from springing into action when one of the other mothers grabbed her by the arm and pulled her to safety.

There, I thought to myself, that’s the close call of the day. There’s always one at every pool party, inevitably some kid slips into the deep end or thinks he can swim the pool’s length without stopping. The adult contingency screws itself up into a turmoil at the excitement and everyone shares a nervous “she’s okay, but its funny now that she almost died from drowning” laugh and the party goes on.

There were about a half-dozen girls in the shallow edge of the pool… and Matthew, the boy. He was just happy to be there, climbing up the step, jumping into the pool with a terrifically satisfying splash and a demonic chortle. The girls didn’t pay much attention to Matthew, and I got the feeling that he didn’t care, telling random things to random girls while they all played nonsensical games.

And I sat there, making sure none of them went past me and off a ledge into the deep end. The pool is designed so that the shallow end is rather a shelf, a two-feet-deep flat area, and over the edge, it sharply drops to the standard eight-foot deep end. It was my job that nobody got by me. It turned out that the shallow end was enough to keep Matthew in trouble for most of the afternoon.

He would jump off of the step into the water and end up in a sitting position after his feet would slip out from under him. And the he would get stuck there, unable to get his feet back under him so he could stand up again. He did that five or six times, and each time, I had to jump in there and rescue him.

It is amazing how many times he would have drown if I wasn’t there. Well, I guess it would have been just the one time, but you know what I mean.

So, swim lessons for the kids this summer, for sure.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

A Feel-Good Moment

On the way home from Kara’s Open House at her school last Thursday, we stopped by the store to pick up some much needed milk. I left them in the truck while I ran in to the store to get some. There were only two check stands open so I picked what looked like to me the lesser of the two, behind a man who had a bunch of bananas. The woman in front of the banana man told him that he could go ahead of her, because she had a basket filled to the brim with groceries. He graciously stepped in front of her, which left only me at the end.

She then looked at me and my milk and said, “You can go ahead of me too if you’d like.”

I was feeling a tad philosophical, so I quipped, “You can’t let everyone in front of you. Plus, I’ve got all night.”

“No, really,” she responded, motioning to the carton in my hand. “You only have milk.”

“It’s okay. I’m fine,” I said, and I’m not sure what made me say what I said next, but by the time I realized it, I had already said it: “Usually things work out well for me.” It was an odd thing to say just at that moment, and I’m sure that poor woman didn’t know what I meant by it. She faintly smiled and returned back to empting her cart.

Just then, and I mean less than five seconds after my quizzical comment, another checker comes out of nowhere, steps up to me and says, “Sir, I can help you on three.” And I went from being the last in line to the first in line.

It was a rare moment when I was given that wonderful “I control the fates of the universe” feeling.

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