Saturday, August 1. 2009
One day last week, when I picked Alphie up from school, I was greeted by the grinning face of one of her teachers with a story to tell me. Alphie’s teacher told me that they had asked her what her new baby’s name was going to be.
This led to a momentary flash of fear, followed by a slow motion replay of various names we may have discussed, in jest, that might be construed as “not something a four year old should be talking about”.
After all, for the first four months of gestation, Bettie was known as “Blob”.
By way of example, a week or so ago Alphie returned home from school with the name “Pentical” as a leading contender. After reassuring her that Pentical was a perfectly reasonable name, Alphie and Angie tried to find it in the “100,000 things you would never name your child” book. The closest we found was “Quintilla”, which is Latin for “Fifth child”.
And then there was the discussion of names with a Texan flare, into which I proposed “Galveston”. When Angie countered, with a touch of sarcasm “How bad could that childhood be?”, I pointed out that the worst case scenario is that she would be hit by a hurricane every two years.
And then there is the fact that I love the name “Hildegarde”. I know that it is not a battle I can win, but I sally forth to propose it every time I have the chance. I love the nickname “Hilddie” (possibly the strongest selling point), and I think it is one of the best under-rated names available to prospective parents. Angie continues to hold to the position that I would not love to pay for the therapy of a daughter named Hildegarde, and I have to, reluctantly, agree.
So would a teacher think that Alphie was joking if she told her that the baby’s name was Hildegarde? Would they have thought that was funniest joke of the day, thus crushing my daughters view that her father is truly one of the great minds of this century?
And so I stood in Alphie’s classroom filled with chairs made for extremely little people, talking to a teacher across a table that does not even reach my knees when I am sitting down. I could only hope that things we had said in the rather regular environment of our house had either not been repeated in the rounded corner environment designed for children, or that the translation would be more exact than I can comfortably expect from a four year old.
The teacher, probably interpreting my hesitation as an actual attempt to think of a name, told me that our dear, sweet child had responded gleefully:
Alphie, with two “L”s.
Saturday, February 7. 2009
Today, on the way home from school, you cried. These weren’t tears of frustration, or disappointment.
These were tears of sadness.
It started innocently enough. You wanted some of my spice drops.
You love candy. You can spot it a mile away, and you turn on the charm to try to get it. It is quite a sight to see. Today you asked if you could have some of my spice drops as we were getting ready to drive home. I said “Not now.”
You countered with “Can I have some when we get to the road outside of our neighborhood?”
And so I said “You can have some of my spice drops when we reach the big hill.”
And so we settled in for a long drive. We chatted about your day, and about the games you played, and we chatted about our friend, Scot, who is coming to visit this weekend.
Scot was the officiant at your mother and I’s wedding and is a tremendous friend. You mother showed you some of our wedding pictures, because you were curious who he was, and you started to describe to me all of the people you saw in the pictures.
Of course, there were quite a few people at our wedding, and so you went on for a little while you listed all of the people you recognized.
And then, quietly, you asked “Daddy, who are Grammie Curran’s parents?”
I enthusiastically told you about your Great-Grampa Curran and your Great-Gammie Curran, and how they were tremendous people, and how much fun we used to have seeing them.
And you asked the inevitable question “Where are they, Daddy?”
And, even though I knew this was going to rapidly get complicated, I told you.
“They have died, babe.”
You began using the words “dead” and “died” about a month ago. You related it to falling over, lying still, and not responding to anything, which means you have grabbed the issue by the right end. But you obviously have only the most rudimentary concept of what it means.
And you responded “Where did they die, dad?” Reticently I told you, keeping it brief and hoping we could still move on without delving too deep.
You headed back into territory that is slightly more upbeat by asking me if you could see any pictures of them, to which I said “Yes, we have pictures of them both and it would be fun to look at them together.”
Then, as you tried to define a little bit more about death, you asked the next logical question, “Do we have any pictures of them after they died?”
I assured you that I did not, and explained further that this is not something we typically do in our culture, though I don’t have any real reason why.
You pressed on into unknown lands and asked “Did Grammie Curran get a new mommy and daddy?”
You listened intently as I explained to you that your Grammie Curran loved her Mommy and Daddy very much, and that she was old enough that she did not need new ones.
And you thought about it for a minute or so and then you said matter-of-factually “Grammie Curran isn’t dead, though.”
Heartily, I agreed “No, your Grammie Curran isn’t dead.”
You returned to your own quiet thoughts for a few moments, but then you asked “Is Zsiga dead?”
Now Zsiga is an old dog. I think he is fourteen. He is going blind, and he sleeps a lot, but he is still very much alive. I figured at this point that you were just extending the previous line of thought to Zsiga, since the only time you have seen him is with your Grammie Curran.
Quickly, I answered “No babe, Zsiga isn’t dead; he is just living with Grammie Curran.”
And from the back of the car was silence.
Then, very softly, you told me “Grammie Curran will be very lonely when Zsiga is dead.”
And about halfway through your statement you burst into tears.
Even though we were driving, I reached around to hold your hand and I told you “Yes, babe, Grammie Curran will be very sad when Zsiga dies, but it hasn’t happened yet, and it won’t for a while.” I squeezed your hand, and you held tightly to mine.
This statement is pretty amazing to me. I don’t really know exactly where it came from, but for some reason you have come to understand that Zsiga’s death is a very real possibility, and that this will be a tremendously sad thing for your Grammie Curran.
And so you cried. You cried tears of sorrow and longing. You cried deeply.
Through the tears, you finally said “I miss Grammie Curran and I miss Zsiga very much.”
So I said “Would you like to ask Grammie Curran to send you a picture of him?”
You nodded, sniffling, and settled down a little bit.
And we drove on a little bit in silence. Finally, you said “Are we on the big hill?”
Glad to have moved on, I exuberantly told you “Yes we are!” and handed you three spiced drops.
And so it was that, two minutes later, you said “The third one I ate tasted like the stuff that goes in the potty!”
And I asked, “Oh, you didn’t like that one?”
To which you responded “Yes, I did, but it tasted like the blue stuff that goes in the potty!”
Astonished, I said “But we don’t ever eat the blue stuff that goes in the potty...”
And you yelled “I know that!”
Wednesday, December 31. 2008
Angie and Alphie are home from work and school this week, which means I have the strange experience of leaving them to go to work in the mornings.
This morning I moseyed through the act of getting ready and then announced “Ok, ladies, I am leaving! I will see you tonight!” and kissed each of them.
Then, as I walked towards the stairs to actually leave, I revised my plan and said “Actually, I am going to go downstairs and make an English muffin, and then I am leaving!”
As I strode down the stairs Angie called “It’s trash day.”
So I again revised my order of operations, and answered “OK, I will take out the trash, and then I will make a muffin, and then I will leave.”
To which Alphie responded “No! We will take out the trash! The ladies!”
I am sure I will still be taking out the trash, but it was darn cute to see Alphie refer to herself and her mother collectively.
Friday, August 17. 2007
It is never good when you have to preface a joke to make the punch line funny. I think that is one of the first rules of comedy.
In order to get this joke, you have to know two things about our lives.
Prepare yourself not to laugh at something we thought was über-funny.
First required information: Alphie refers to one of her grandmothers (Angie’s mom, Anne) as “Guinea”. Or perhaps “Grinnie”. She loves “Grinnie”, if only because Anne bribes her with food and even brings our dog over now and then.
Second required information: We have been trying to sell our house for months. It is not going well. We are caught in a market with high inventory. In an area where high priced homes are moving, while mid-range homes (as ours is) are not. Surrounded by builders who continue to build even though they aren’t selling any houses, either. With a floor-plan that we enjoy but would be considered “non-traditional”.
Not that I have rationalized why no-one wants our house or anything.
Side-note (to destroy the humor factor even further): This is why Anne brings our dog over to visit us from time to time. The dog, who is not receptive to letting strangers wander through his house now and then, has been living at Anne and Frank’s the entire time the house has been on the market. They are saints.
So, now for the actual story I am aching to tell you.
Today, at lunch in a restaurant, Angie and I attempted to hold a conversation about whether we should keep the house on the market or just take it off the market for a while and try to enjoy ourselves for a little while.
Now, having a conversation around Alphie while not addressing her directly is somewhat difficult. She insists that she be included, even if it is simply a matter of us talking to her while actually saying what we want to say to one another.
I am sure that this looks perfectly normal to passersby. Surely they immediately spring to the conclusion that we love our daughter and wish her to be deeply involved in all the financial decisions in our lives, and not that Angie and I have trouble addressing one another directly and are really passive aggressive.
And so, Angie and I had a wonderful conversation with our two year old about what we should do with the house.
And, at some point, Angie asked our precocious little girl, “Should we sell the house and move?”
To which the instantaneous reply was an emphatic “Yes!”
And so Angie asked the obvious follow up question “Where should we move to?”
Alphie paused to consider the question for a few seconds before yelling “Grinnie’s”.
Who knew that two year olds had preferences?
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