April 28, 2009

Learning to laugh at herself

Swee’Pea has always been a bit self-conscious, which can translate into shyness, when she has been around others. She would get embarrassed if she realized you were watching her while she was singing or dancing or just being silly. Knowing how difficult life can be when trying to overcome shyness, I have tried to encourage the outgoing, silly side of Swee’Pea so that she will feel more comfortable around others and not take herself so seriously. I wasn’t sure if any of this was sinking in.

But today, while driving in the car, Swee’Pea told me she wanted to tell me a story. This is how it went:

“Today, TheMonk and I were drawing with Devin at daycare and I had the green crayon, the red crayon and the black crayon. But then I couldn’t find the red crayon! I looked all around. I looked on the floor, I looked on the table and I couldn’t find it anywhere… Then TheMonk told me that it was in my hand.”

And upon hearing this, I started to laugh. Hard. And before I knew it, Swee’Pea, unlike those times in the past where she would have been embarrassed, joined in with laughter of her own. And as we drove down the highway while giggling ourselves silly, I couldn’t help but feel proud that my little girl now knows how to laugh at herself.

Unless she was laughing at her old man. She’s been known to do that.

Crazy Swee'Pea

April 19, 2009

Art Critics

It has been a beautiful day.

The sun is high in the sky and the warmth from the sun penetrates our body and warms our souls.  Swee’Pea and TheMonk have had a wonderful day so far as we have already spent the morning playing at the YMCA Healthy Kids day and a lunch of chicken nuggets at Chick-Fil-A.   Then, after lunch, we hit the toy aisle at Wal-Mart to pick up a couple of presents for a birthday party we will be attending the next day.

The kids have been good.  The warm day, the first in a while, shouts out the need for a frozen yogurt.  Why not reward the kids with a special treat? I decide to surprise the kids by heading to a yogurt store that has just opened up about a mile from our house.  Swee’Pea chooses strawberry and TheMonk chooses chocolate.  We add some fresh strawberries and a few rainbow sprinkles and head outside to enjoy our tasty treat.

I sit back and watch them enjoy their yogurt and marvel at how big they’ve become.  I also make note how much I enjoy hanging out with them and smile at my good fortune to have such wonderful kids.  Life is good.

After they finish their yogurt we happen to find two pennies on the ground and so, at Swee’Pea’s suggestion, we head over to the nearby fountain to make a wish.  Swee’Pea wishes for kitties. TheMonk wishes for cars. I dig an extra penny out of my pocket and I wish for peace of mind while tossing the shiny copper coin into the clear water.  More days like this would be a good start.

Soon, we head back to the car and as I escort the kids along the sidewalk, we approach a sidewalk drawing that someone has drawn directly in front of us.  As we get closer, I notice what it is and hope the kids don’t notice the drawing.  But they do. Of course they do.

“What’s THAT Daddy?” Swee’Pea asks.

“Ummmm, it’s a…. bone.” I say, hoping we can just keep moving.

“No it’s not a bone.” says Swee’Pea emphatically.

TheMonk moves in for a closer look and agrees it doesn’t look like a bone.  “This side is missing the bone part, Daddy.” he says.

“What is it, Daddy?” Swee’Pea persists.

“It’s a bone!” I say somewhat emphatically.  “The drawer wasn’t very good at drawing bones, but it’s a bone.  OK? Can we go now?”

Looking skeptical, they agree to move on.  As we continue down the sidewalk, I can’t help but think that throwing that penny in the fountain was a frickin’ waste.

That's not a bone!
That’s NOT a bone, Daddy!

April 16, 2009

Playin’ Daddy

There are times, when I look at my sweet little girl, I worry about her future.  I worry how she will handle unwanted advances of teenage boys or how she will hold up against boys with strong personalities.  To me, she’s a fragile flower who is sweet and gentle and kind.  I can’t help but worry.

Turns out, I needn’t worry.

Just this week, for example, Swee’Pea has begun to show the beguiling ways of a young lady who knows how to get what she wants.  And it just so happens I have been her test dummy.

For example, Easter candy has been meted out in small portions to Swee’Pea and TheMonk and this has not sat well with Swee’Pea.  She wants candy, dammit, and she wants it now.  Unfortunately, I have been totally uncooperative in her efforts to procure more sugary goodness.  But that hasn’t stopped her from trying.

On Monday morning she snuggled up to me on the couch, rested her head on my arm and asked for a piece of chocolate.  I explained to her that it was much too early to be eating chocolate and suggested a nice tangerine for her to snack on if she was hungry.  I swear, I could see her eyes roll even looking at the back of her head as she walked away.

Not knowing she was being watched, she slyly picked up a plastic egg filled with chocolate on her way out of the room, fully intent on having a little bit of chocolate in spite of her old man’s wishes.  Until I called out her name, that is.  She froze upon hearing me call her and when she turned to face me, it was clear she knew she was busted.  I admonished her for taking the egg and took it away while she went off to sulk and, it turns out, map out her next plan of attack.

The next morning, as we are rushing around the room getting ready to get out the door to daycare and work, Swee’Pea approaches me with a piece of chocolate.  “Here, Daddy.  I have chocolate for you for doing such a great job.”  As she handed me the candy she gave me a big hug and I almost broke into tears right there that my own little girl was so appreciatve of all I have done for her.  I held the chocolate in my hand as I helped the kids get their coats on as we were heading out the door.  Swee’Pea waited patiently as I put TheMonk’s coat on and then, as I turned to assist Swee’Pea, she asked me if I was going to eat my chocolate.

Sensing she wanted me to eat it, I unwrapped it and took a bite.  As I looked down at her, expecting her to smile with pleasure at seeing her old man eat the chocolate she had so lovingly given him.

Until she spoke.

“Can I have a bite, Daddy?”

And it was at that moment that I realized I had been played like a cheap violin.

On the plus side, I don’t have to worry about her any more. The girl will be just fine.

April 9, 2009

Take the path less traveled

We are walking out of the neighborhood pool and the path leading us away curves in an “S” with grass surrounding the path.  Our destination can be seen in front of us but the path veers back and forth towards that destination.  Swee’Pea, rather than follow the path, starts to cut a straight path of her own over the grass.

Instinctively I say, “Swee’Pea, stay on the path, please.”

Swee’Pea, looks up at me and asks a very reasonable question. “Why, Daddy?  Why do I have to stay on the path?”

And it made me think.

Why should she stay on the path?  Why shouldn’t she blaze her own trail?  And I thought again about my own life and all the paths I have taken over my lifetime.  And while I don’t regret much in my life, I feel there have been times when I played it safe.  I took the path that everyone else was taking because it was easier or it was expected.  And I do wonder what my life would have been like if I had just had the nerve to blaze my own trail.

So, I turned to Swee’Pea and said, “You don’t have to follow the path, Swee’Pea.  You can go any way you want to.”

And with that, she took off across the grass, never looking back.

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveller, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I–
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference

…Robert Frost

April 3, 2009

&@$%ing London Bridge

My new car has one toy that may be the single reason I bought this particular car. It has the Sync system where I plug in my iPod and then can play songs on it using the voice recognition part of the sync system. “Play Artist Tiffany” I might say and… well, it wouldn’t actually play Tiffany because I’m not a 14 year old girl and this isn’t 1987, but I could tell it to play any artist in my iPod and it will play it. Pretty cool.

Swee’Pea and TheMonk have begun to appreciate this feature as well. Often times when we get in the car, TheMonk, especially, asks to hear his favorite song. I’ll announce, “Play artist Daniel Powter” and the song “Bad Day” will suddenly start playing. Usually, we are only driving a short distance and don’t have much time to listen to more than one song. The other day, however, we were on a bit of a longer drive so after TheMonk’s song ended, I decided to request Swee’Pea’s favorite song, Fergie’s Big Girls Don’t Cry. “Play Artist Fergie” I said and, sure enough, the familiar refrains began to play… “Da, Da, Da, Daaaaa…” I soon lose track of the song as I think about what I’m going to have for lunch focus on driving.

But something soon jolts me back to reality. Something loud and quite clear. You see, I had not thought about the fact that I have two Fergie songs on my iPod. The first, as you know, is Big Girls Don’t Cry and is a fine song. The second song is a little song called London Bridge. London Bridge is also a fine song. If you want to teach your children to talk like drunken sailors. I am reminded of this small fact as all I can hear blaring from the speakers is “OH SHIT! OH SHIT! OH SHIT!” Now I’m sure there are other words to the song but at that moment in time, cruising down the highway at 64.5 mph, all I can hear is one of the biggest four-letter words there is. And I can’t get the Sync lady to change the song fast enough.

I finally reach over and turn down the stereo all way down. Silence surrounds us and I glance in my rear-view mirror to see if Swee’Pea and TheMonk were paying attention. Perhaps they weren’t paying attention. Perhaps they were thinking about what they were going to have for lunch and totally missed it. Perhaps they are so oblivious to bad words that it hasn’t even registered what they, in fact, heard.

Seconds passed by and I began to relax. They hadn’t heard. Everything was right in the world and my innocent children would remain pure for another day. I relaxed back into my chair and reached to turn up the radio. And then I heard a noise from the back seat.

TheMonk: “Oh, Shit!”
Swee’Pea: “Oh, Shit!”

Me: “Oh, shit.”


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