The “why” phase of toddler development officially began this week. LOTS of “why?”, sometimes pursued, sometimes abandoned. I’m trying to gauge when he’s actually asking vs when it’s the start of an objection and he doesn’t really care why unless the answer is “okay, you’re right, you can do or have <insert toy or food here>”.
I’m happy to follow him down the why rabbit hole, though. Twice, just this week, with completely different starting points, our journey took us to an explanation of how time is linear. Coincidence? Maybe, but I plan to pay attention and see how often this happens.
I don’t remember the start of the second conversation, but the first one started on our way home from a playground. He had kicked his shoes off. “Mommy, can you get my shoes?” “Not right now, sweetie.” “Why?” “Because I’m driving the car.” “Why?” I wish I had recorded it – I’d really like to remember how we got to time, but it was perfectly logical then.
The other day, Jack asked to watch a video that is no longer available on Amazon Prime. That has happened before, but those videos were available on YouTube. This one is not. So Jack asked for it, and I said it’s not available anymore. I can’t find it.
Jack: Did you check on Amazon?
Me: Yes, sweetie. It’s not on Amazon anymore.
Jack: Daddy is tall. Maybe he can find it.
Me, smothering a laugh: Daddy IS tall, but I don’t think he’ll be able to find it, either.
Jack, glancing out the window toward the neighbor’s house, with a funny little smile on his face: How about…Steve?
Recently, Jack has begun doing things he knows he’s not supposed to do. We can tell he knows because he a) waits for us to look, and b) makes the same face every time, a face that clearly says “Oh ho ho, look at what I’m doing” and dares us to do something about it. I would love to catch that face on camera, but when I see it, I have to be ready to catch him.
The face, which is similar to “the face” but with so much more devilishness, appears when he’s about to open a cabinet he shouldn’t be in, or when he’s standing on his chair, or when he’s snatching his hand out of mine when we’re walking along the street. That one is usually followed by demon possession and a growled “NO” when I try to get his hand back, then angry crying while seated on the sidewalk until I can pick him up and distract him.
The sidewalk incidents aside, why does it have to be so funny when he dares us to tell him no? I knew this day was coming, when I was going to have to find a way not to laugh when I need him to take me seriously, and I knew I wasn’t going to be prepared for it. Over the weekend, he kept standing up in his blue chair, and John and I had to take turns – one turned away to laugh silently while the other said, as sternly as possible, “Jack, sit down. We sit in chairs.” He’d sit down, get that look again, and stand right back up, and we’d switch.
I’d like to say we’ll get better at it, but I’m kind of afraid we’ll just lose our sense of humor about it. Is it possible to think it’s funny and still keep a straight face and stern voice?
Jack says “up” a LOT, and the word keeps getting new meanings (without getting rid of the old ones). It started out just meaning “pick me up”. Then, sometimes “up” meant “move, please” or “get out of my way”. Next, “up” started to mean “down”, as in “put me down” or “I want to get down” if he was already up. (And if he says “up” and you say, “do you mean down?”, he’ll say “yup”. He just won’t attempt to say down.) After that, “up” could also mean “on top of” something or “higher than something else”. Like, he’ll lift the ladder on top of his fire truck and say “up”, or he’ll stack a toy on top of another toy and say “up”. Most recently, like new yesterday, Jack looked at John, pointed next to him on the rug, and said “up”. He very clearly meant “sit down right here, Dad.” A couple hours later, he was sitting in the big gray chair and he did the same thing to me. Pointed to the cushion and said “up.” So I sat down next to him in the chair, and he was happy.
Jack sleeps on his back, of course, and when he starts to get a little restless, he lifts both legs in the air and then drops them hard back on the mattress. It doesn’t wake him up, but god damn if it doesn’t shake the whole house. The first few times it happened, we went looking for what heavy thing had fallen over. But then it happened again, and then again. (He rarely does it just once when he’s stirring.) So we checked the monitor and sure enough, our mini-earthquakes were being caused by the baby.
I love Whitney Houston. I’ve loved her since my first grade teacher sang “The Greatest Love Of All” at the end of the year. I can’t say exactly when I got her first album and learned all the words to all of the songs, but I finished first grade in 1986, so let’s go with that summer. (The album came out in 1985, so that’s probably pretty close.)
Anyway, I still know all the words to every song on that album, and if I hear them on the radio, I will always sing along. The thing is, I don’t hear most of those songs very much anymore, and I’ve known them so long, I don’t really put much thought into them. The words just come out, like muscle memory.
That’s how I had an epiphany, in real time, while singing along to “Saving All My Love For You” in the car with John this past Sunday.
The song starts.
“A few stolen moments is all that we share”. My brain pricks up a bit. Why stolen? Why can’t they be together?
“You’ve got your family and they need you there.” Hang on a sec. Maybe she just means he has kids.
“Though I’ve tried to resist being last on your list” Could still be that he has kids…
“But no other man’s gonna do
So I’m saving all my love for you.” Inconclusive. But now I’m suspicious. Let’s see what happens next.
“It’s not very easy living all alone
My friends try and tell me find a man of my own.” Huh. He’s not hers. She’s having an affair with a married man!
Skip ahead to the third verse, and any question in my mind was answered:
“You used to tell me we’d run away together
Love gives you the right to be free
You said be patient just wait a little longer
But that’s just an old fantasy.”
How did I not know this? I can understand not getting it when I was 7, but I’ve known every word and note of this song for 32 years, and it NEVER OCCURRED TO ME to think about what it was about. Except to giggle inwardly when I got to “we’ll be making love the whole night through”.
I mean, it’s a fantastic song, and I still love her. (Heh. I will always love her.)
But what else have I been missing about my favorite songs?
You know how sometimes taking a shower is a chore? I don’t get why, but there are plenty of times I just don’t want to.
Some of my reasons:
I don’t want to get up, I’m comfortable here.
It’s too hard.
I’ll have to move my arms a bunch.
I’ll do it tomorrow.
And in that mood, once I finally do shower, yeah, it’s a chore. Get it done, get out, go back to doing whatever I was doing (or not doing) before. Eh.
But then there are those other times, those times when I step under the hot water and realize my whole life has been waiting for this. I was meant to be in the shower. I live here now. In fact, I’m typing this from the shower. (Okay, I’m not, but I wish I were.) The water is hot, the bathroom is warm and steamy, my shampoo smells good, I’m warm and comfortable and no, I’m never coming out.
Whoever invented the hot shower should be celebrated around the world, praised be their name.
But then, the sudden but inevitable betrayal*: the hot water runs out, the water goes cold, and I reach for a towel, sad and bereft.
*All sudden but inevitable betrayals boil down to this:
It’s raining. It’s lovely. It’s a nice day, with real steady rain falling, dim lighting so I can have my twinkle lights on all day long, and the store had my favorite creamer in stock, so I can have coffee all day. (I blend decaf and regular together – I can’t handle fully caffeinated coffee all day long. I’d die of a cracked skull from bouncing off the ceiling.)
It’s pouring, and I can’t concentrate.
Like, how-is-there-that-much-water-up-in-the-sky kind of rain.
Let’s forget this whole water cycle thing – that’s too logical. REALLY, my neighborhood is in a giant shower. Some alien has decided it’s time to bathe and I can’t see it (the alien) because a) we’re all really really tiny compared to the giant alien in its giant shower, and b) we’re off to the side of the tub so we’re not in danger of getting stepped on.
Sure, this alien must be taking a really long, really cold shower (it’s been raining for hours), but hey, aliens aren’t like us. Maybe it prefers cold water. And the shower is going on for so long because it doesn’t happen all that frequently, and the alien has a lot of dirt to wash off.
That river that’s just a couple of blocks away? Nah, that’s a trickle of water heading toward the alien’s giant shower drain.
And when the rain stops and the sun comes out, I’ll know that the alien has stepped out of the shower and opened the curtain again.
We saw Paula Poundstone last night, and, as expected, she’s hilarious. When we left, my face hurt from all the smiling and laughing. She has some material we’d heard pieces of, but mostly she talks to the audience, and it’s great. Including last night, when two out of the three people she had extended conversations with ended up pissed off. The rest of us thought it was hilarious – those two, not so much. She may have been a bit too pointed, or they may not have been able laugh at themselves, or maybe a bit of both. I loved it.
Not related: I have Barenaked Ladies’ “One Week” stuck in my head. At Thanksgiving last week, someone said something about Chinese food, and John, Sean, and I all started singing “chickity china the Chinese chicken, you have a drumstick and your brain stops tickin'”. Molly didn’t know what was happening, poor sheltered child. So we educated her. By singing the whole song. Multiple times.
And now it’s stuck in your brain, too. Or maybe you’re in my brain, listening to my ear worms? Welcome! We have a good time. All I ask is that you put safety first – beware the trap doors and stay out of the way of the roller derby.
Bird and Bird joined us when our house was on the market during the holiday season in 2014, and it behooved us to decorate mildly but tastefully. I bought a little abstract sort of tree and a holiday-ish table runner for the dining room table, a green bough of some kind for the mantle, and Bird and Bird for the counter. The other decorations didn’t make the cut, but Bird and Bird accompanied us to Annapolis, across the country to Eugene, and back the other way to Providence. We like them.
Three years into our travels with Bird and Bird, we decided they needed friends.
Meet Bird and Bird:
They are appropriately dressed for the weather, and they’re ready to make friends.
The sort feature came back! I am way happier about that than I should be. I mean, really. It’s a sort feature on a website. But it’s back! And I can sort my wish list by price again! Seriously, I’m pretty pleased. I will take that as a positive end to what turned out to be a very long workday (what is with Fridays?), walk away from my computer, and read a book. Hopefully one that I’ll like. More on that tomorrow.
We watched two cats confront each other, which I found hilarious, and I’ve just spent the better part of ten minutes trying to figure out how I wanted to describe it. I was aiming for too grandiose, I think, so here’s the simplified version:
There was a white cat on the sidewalk and a black cat five or six steps above it on the walk to someone’s front door. The white cat meowed at the black cat, but the black cat was having none of it. It kept up a steady low warning growl while the white cat meowed piteously. I can only assume the white cat was trying to apologize for something awful it did, and the black cat was like, no way, dude, you had your chance. The white cat followed us a couple of houses down and then settled on the neighbor’s front stoop staring back in the direction of the black cat, literally claiming the high ground.
It’s a rainy, kind of dank, dark day, but two things just happened that brightened my mood. First, I got this ridiculous, totally incomprehensible email from a customer:
“It looks like we do not have production turned on. So I need to get your metadata chicken figure production”
Total autocorrect fail, and it’s making me laugh. Metadata Chicken Figure is the name of my new band.
I responded with, “I can provide my metadata chicken figure production, but not until I receive your grounded sailboat muppet configuration. I’ll need to make sure they match.” (No, I didn’t. But Grounded Sailboat Muppet is the name of my autobiography.)
THEN I saw this picture on Tom and Lorenzo. It’s the hipsteriest hipster picture that ever hipstered.
Let us count the hipster ways…I get to 7 without even trying. I am amused.
The most recent two pictures on my phone right now are of pickle jars. I accidentally bought sweet bread and butter pickles the other day, but I didn’t realize it until I took a bite of one at lunch today. I don’t hate them, but I MUCH prefer dill pickles, and when you’re expecting to taste dill and you get whatever that sweet taste is instead? SUPER disappointing. (My Twitter world agrees.) So I went back to the store today, the third day in a row, but not for that. Well, not only for that. Friday is John’s birthday, so I needed wrapping paper, a card, and, most importantly, a Carvel ice cream cake. He LOVES Carvel ice cream cakes, so I’m off the hook for baking every year.
I also bought bread and pickles. Dill pickles. Aaaannd that’s my new secret agent name.
Speaking of baking, I have two overripe bananas, so during one of my 16 trips to the store this week, I picked up flour and baking soda, and now I need to make banana bread. Maybe I can convince John it’s birthday banana bread. Buttery birthday banana bread. Blissful buttery birthday banana bread. Brilliant blissful buttery birthday banana bread.
I was going to comment on how the mugginess of late summer/early fall here in a house without air conditioning means that gear that gets sweaty and, like, towels don’t always feel completely dry after 24 hours, but I decided that it would sound like I’m complaining, and I’m not, so I won’t.
I was going to say something about how our bedroom is set up in a weird way so that our bed either goes under windows, leaving no room for a dresser (not if we want to be able to open the drawers) or against a wall between two doors, leaving no room for bedside tables so there’s no place for reading lights or glasses of water or even our phones except to put them on the floor, but really that’s an opportunity for us to go find a headboard that has a shelf on it, which we’ve wanted for a long time, so it’s not even a complaint and it’s not worth mentioning.
I was going to mention that I’m not crazy about working until 5pm again – what happened to my afternoons? – but it’s the end of the government fiscal year right now and everyone is running around like chickens with their heads cut off, so long (or at least normal) hours are to be expected, and then I remembered that starting work at 9 instead of 6 means I can exercise in the morning again, which I LOVE, so this is a schedule change I can live with. Especially since I think I can shift back to earlier hours (maybe 7 to 3?) once it starts getting dark and cold in the early mornings, and then I’ll prefer to run later anyway, so it all works out, and I don’t see the point of bringing it up.
The other morning I stopped to watch some rowers on the Seekonk River. There was an 8-person shell out there, moving relatively slowly, while some guy, I presume the coach, was standing in a nearby launch, shouting at them through a bullhorn. I couldn’t make out most of what he was saying, but it appears he enunciates more when he’s irritated.
“Mwah mwah mwah mwah except for Josh. LOOK AT ME, JOSH. Mwah mwah mwah.”
A few minutes later, the launch went back to the boathouse and then came back out escorting another 8-person shell.
“Mwah-mwah-mwah wah. Then Warwick will pick it up. WARWICK! DON’T STOP. Mwah mwah.”
I remembered where we put the screws first thing this morning, as we were walking to Starbucks. They were in the toolbox because OF COURSE they were in the toolbox. Now I have a desk AND a chair and they’re both set up in my brand new office with lots of windows that would be letting in all the sunlight if we weren’t in the middle of a rainy day.
Also, the pod is gone, our own washer and dryer are hooked up, and now we just have to figure out how to arrange the rooms. Also also, I still have to work full-time. Where’s my lottery jackpot?
Speaking of hotel oddities, there was this gem in the hotel in Wisconsin.
Too bad for the people in room 121. Our room in Erie, PA is quite nice, although the bathroom door doesn’t close all the way. There’s always something. We’re in the type of hotel I stayed in the night I walked into a dresser and tore my toenail off (three years ago in Philadelphia) so I’m going to be extra careful when I get up in the middle of the night. My toenail has STILL not fully recovered.