Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Super Babies

I read in Sports Illustrated today that nine year-old, Kayla Parsons, qualified for a World Amateur golf tournament at Myrtle Beach, S.C. breaking the record for youngest to qualify by a staggering four years. Meanwhile, Argentinian soccer phenom Leonel Angel Coira makes Kayla look like an old lady, signing a contract with European powerhouse Real Madrid at the ripe age of seven. The article then went on to describe a new movement in the field of genetics where parents can send a sample of their child's double helix and find out which sport(s) they might have a propensity towards.

A few things came to mind as I read the tongue and cheek article describing the author's own hopes that his five year-old daughter would become a famous etymologist (words) or entomologist (insects) when she brilliantly described a butterfly as a flutter-by. First of all, I wondered if children like Kayla and Leonel developed an interest in their gifts naturally, or if they were driven/supported/encouraged/forced by the vision of a parent or guardian? Maybe a little bit of both. Maybe it doesn't matter if there's love and a big fat paycheck at the end of all the hard work.

It certainly made me fee better about drilling Amari with the numbers and alphabet, and making her run laps around the house and do push-ups when she mispronounces words. Hey, it's what you've got to do if you want an under-four's spelling be champ. In all honesty, I hope Amari finds something she loves to do and excels at, but with the exception of an uncanny ability to melt my heart and pretty solid fine motor skills, I don't see any professional sports teams knocking on our door anytime soon.

That being said, however, here's a recent video of Amari enjoying herself at Reya's soccer practice. Although the practice was a joke, with parents other than Noah and Nicole showing up no earlier than twenty minutes late, the kids were all pretty cute. Amari is also very good at turning things into hats if that ever becomes a valued spectator sport.


Today, in her heart melting workout routine, Amari added a new move. She loves repetition. In, out, up, down, open, close, anything and everything over and over again until she masters it. Today it was the swinging screen door at the front of our house, followed by the steps down into the yard. Open, close, down, up, open, close, turn and start again. I always take advantage and try to get stuff done while she's focused. When I finished up, I caught her at the  beginning of her cycle just outside and heading towards the stairs.
"Whatchya doin'?" I asked.
She turned around, looked up at me through the screen and said, "Bye bye, Dada. Miss you?"
I thought I was hearing things, because I'd never said that to her explicitly. "What?" I asked, and she repeated it perfectly and sweetly.

C'mon Reebok, Adidas, Nike - that's gotta be worth somthing.

Could this face sell shoes or what?

Sunday, August 28, 2011

A Thought...

Our small, coastal hamlet was rocked this weekend by the murder of its former mayor and current city councilman Jere Melo. The news broke this morning and it came in the wake of a similarly grisly murder that took place just over two weeks ago. It is purported that both victims stumbled upon marijuana grow scenes and both were shot and killed as a result. There is more information about Melo's murder, including a suspect and local transient who is considered armed, dangerous, and hiding out somewhere nearby.

I'm writing this because I feel unsettled. Everything changes to some degree when you have children, a family, people in your life whom you care for deeply. There were years in my early twenties when the thought of being a killer's next victim would have been a welcome relief - an end to the useless existence I was living. I'm sure people cared for me just as much as they do now, but I didn't care at all.

Now I feel concerned for the safety of my daughter, my wife, my mother-in-law, the countless people in our community who have become extended family to me. It takes a unique kind of crazy person to actually point guns at people and kill them, and it is not the kind of person I want roaming around while we're going about our daily business.

That's all. When things like this strike so close to home, it's hard not to feel affected. I hope they catch the asshole soon.

Blessings to the Melo family.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Piece Out

We made it. The first week of our transitions back to work and solo daytime parenting is over. The key to success - rolling with the unpredictability and reminding myself to be extra patient with Amari because these major changes must feel confusing.

For her part, Amari kept me on my toes. Monday was a breeze - busy, fast-paced, and gone before I knew it. After that, it was anyone's guess when Amari was going to turn from a cave toddler into a whine-o-saurus. Tuesday she was an angel all morning, but a nightmare when she woke up from her nap. And by nightmare, I mean a mildly bad dream where you've been attacked by one of those koala bears with the Velcro hands or a piece of fabric softener that didn't work. Wednesday, however, she switched it up, finally returning from her morning visit to planet Cling-On in the afternoon. Thanks to the sun and a $20 Rite-Aid swimming pool, we spent a good chunk of Thursday and Friday in the back yard.

Amari's language develop continues in leaps and bounds, surprising me daily, and reminding to both watch what I say, and say whatever it is I'm watching. The more we give our children a narrative for our shared experience the more quickly they understand the world we live in. I want to mention a couple of the moments I've found most endearing.

1. Wednesday morning, when everything that could go wrong did, left me without telephone, Internet, and patience. Late nights of work had caught up with me, and when I not only couldn't solve the technology problems without assistance but somehow managed to make them worse, I muttered "Fuck. Fuck," to myself within earshot of Amari. Keen on saying the first and last words of my sentences, she jumped at the opportunity to mimic this very short one by saying, "Fook. Fook."

2. I love it when Amari uses words in context that she learned on another occasion. The other day, as I placed her in her car seat, I asked aloud, "Where's your binky?" She promptly responded, "Pocket." I don't even remember teaching her that word. It's pretty cool.

3. One time, while sharing a carbonated beverage with Amari, I let out a little burp, said "burp," as it escaped, and then giggled. It became Amari's favorite game for the next ten minutes as she took sips of the drink, said "burk," and then instructed me to do the same again...and again. A week later, with the game a distant memory to me, Amari took a sip of my juice spritzer, smiled at me and said, "Burk."

4. I love how she says coffee - Foffee - and waffle - Faffle. I love how she loves coffee, but I don't love how much she'll drink it if I let her.

5. Potty Training: I can't even call it training. As Carrie pointed out, it's more like Potty Availability or Potty Opportunity. Amari gets it, she likes it, and now she has added pooping to her repertoire. Two things amaze me: how quickly it has happened and how quickly we as parents get accustomed to these amazing accomplishments.

I can't wait to see what tomorrow brings...

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Shitting For the Cycle

When we started potty training last week, the Giants were slumping terribly, slipping into second place behind the surprising Arizona Diamondbacks. I was in full-swing, August baseball mode and began equating Amari's learning curve to a batting average. The first two days, the similarities were remarkable.

Early in a season, when a hitter gets off to a hot start, you might see his average as high as .400, which means getting a hit four times in every ten at bats. Only thirty-five times since the origin of baseball has a hitter maintained an average above .400 for an entire season, and only once (Ted Williams in 1941) has it been accomplished in past seventy years. Generally, the law of averages, regression to the mean, BABIP, whatever you want to call it, will pull a hitter's average down into a more normal range of .250 to .280. Maybe 15-20 players each year will hit above .300.

Similarly, I imagine a good average for early potty training is also about a forty percent success rate. Amari's first day, she went two for three - twice in the potty and once on the rug for a healthy .667. Day two, she went one for four and saw her average plummet to .429. Unlike baseball, however, the hope for a successful potty training season is to get that average up to one thousand.

After the first two days I was optimistic. We showered Amari with cheers and love and stickers for her chart when she succeeded and downplayed the swings and misses, even when it meant tiny pellets of poop on the living room carpet. She proudly carried her little pool of pee or poop to the main bathroom, bid them farewell with a melodic, "Bye, bye pee pee," and flushed the toilet (often more than once). The stickers have gotten a little out of hand, but we do our best to limit them to three per pee. The chart is much more decorative than organized.

Now, a week into the process, I am completely amazed. If Amari were a baseball player, she would be signed a multi-million dollar long-term contract. Yesterday morning I watched as she was playing by herself across the room. Suddenly she interrupted her conversation with her stuffed donkey, stood up, and said, "Pee pee. Potty," walked over, and did her business. The rest of the day was mistake free until I returned in the evening when she got distracted by a video of herself on the way to the potty and peed in front of the television. Nonetheless, a five for six showing which foreshadowed today's six for six performance.

She's not always diaper-free, but when she is she appears to be into the potty training process. Even when I put her overnight diaper on, right before bedtime she went over to her potty, sat down, and did her thing. Hopefully this is a sign of things to come. Things like no more loud, whiny, diaper changes.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Designer Poop

About two and a half months ago I excitedly wrote an entry titled "Poop Goes in the Potty" after the creepy song on the For the Kids Three album. It felt like the beginning of an era which, when followed immediately by an excited dad chasing his kid around saying, "Do you have to potty now? How about now? Now do you? Potty? No?" fizzled into an aberration...and perhaps a future personality disorder or at the very least a phobia.

Now, with the help of good old Father Time, the infinitely wise (and totally rich) Dr. Sears, and your friendly neighborhood acid trip - I mean Walmart - we have decided once again to embark upon the road to diaper-freedom. The journey began last Saturday in aisle six thousand something, a distant corner of WM's massive Ukiah complex lined with everything you never imagined your child could possibly need - and then six more of each of those things designed by everyone from Disney to John Deere.

After picking up a twelve pack of Dora the Explorer underwear, we headed over the to Tower of Potties located ironically right across from the Mountain of Diapers. It was as though they were taunting or daring or perhaps just quietly whispering, "C'mon. It's much easier to change a diaper than to clean shit off a carpet." With the exception of a case of overnight Huggies, we resisted their charms and stayed focused on our mission.

Carrie had read in one of our Sears books that getting kids involved in choosing their beds and their potties helps them to become invested in the transitions. Although the number of choices was daunting, I was on board, Carrie was excited, and Amari was about twenty feet away looking at a shovel shaped like a frog. Carrie and I discussed our options and the only suggestion I made was choosing one with a softer seat than the cheapo we had at home. Initially ignoring this suggestion, Carrie began pulling potties off the shelves and placing them on the floor. Eventually, she'd barricaded our aisle and summoned Amari, who had now discovered a turtle that doubled as a drum or a bowl, over to choose her potty.

Let me quickly mention that her choices included a bright pink princess potty complete with magic wand flush sounds, a Cars potty with contrasting vroom vroom soundtrack, and a Fisher Price potty that had different sounds for different potty activities. It's shocking how early the gender role imprinting begins - girls poop is magic and boys poop is like cars driving really fast. Fun. There were other choices without soft seats, but when Carrie realized Amari was much more interested in shitting on her frog or turtle, she narrowed the selection down to three. Amari then narrowed it down to one - a bright, pink, princess potty.

So, stage one complete. Success - except for the pink and the princess part. On the way home, however, Carrie said she doesn't want her contempt for those things to influence Amari either. I appreciated her open-mindedness both in the moment and afterwards, because my first reaction was, "Are you sure you don't want this one?" Vroom, vroom?

Tomorrow, I will submit my first report on stage two.


Thursday, August 4, 2011

F$ck, Sh*t, Moth$r F#@ker

It's nothing really, just the beginning of my new blog, "Swearing from the Outside In." I don't really have much of a potty mouth unless I'm trying to make a point or upset religious people, but the days of cavalierly shouting out a Goddammit or a Shit or a Fuckin' A are now behind us.

The short but sweet story is this. Yesterday Carrie was lovingly holding Amari in her arms when a brick planter box appeared from its stationary position it had been resting in for the past twenty years and stubbed her on the toe. Her reaction, much like mine would have been, was an emotional, "Oww, son of a bitch." Amari immediately echoed her sentiments by saying, "Ow...bi chh."

Time to teach her how to rap.


What you lookin' at bi chh?