October 26, 2010

Moonlighting as the Tooth Fairy

The tooth had been dangling for weeks. Swee’Pea would play with it with her tongue, pushing it out and as it barely hung on to the lower gum and we knew the day was coming when it would fall out. Any day now. For two weeks. But that stubborn little tooth hung in there day after day. I knew, in my heart, I was gonna have to pull it out but the thought gave me the heebie jeebies.

But tonight I manned up. I told Swee’Pea it was time for me to pull it out and that it wouldn’t hurt. I told her that I would stop if it began to hurt. She tentatively agreed and I firmly grasped the tiny tooth between my thumb and forefinger, twisted and pulled and… the tooth came out. I showed it to Swee’Pea and I could see in her eyes that it didn’t hurt but that she was not sure how to react.

She stared at the tooth. She looked at me. She stared at the tooth again. And then she broke into tears. As I held her close and her mother rushed in to comfort her, she looked at me with tears streaming down her beautiful face and pleaded, “PUT IT BACK, DADDY! PUT IT BACK! PLEASE, PUT IT BACK!”

And it was at that moment I felt like a total tool.

I consoled her and asked her if she was scared and she nodded her head as I held her close and kissed her tear-stained cheek. We assured her that a new tooth would grow in and that this was, indeed, a great moment. But she wasn’t convinced.

She wasn’t convinced, that is, until I pulled out the ultimate go-to comforter. I promised her an extra dessert night to celebrate her losing her tooth. Before we knew it she had negotiated ice cream with whipped cream, chocolate syrup sprinkled with tiny marshmallows.

Maybe the sugar-free gum from the tooth fairy will make up for the sugar.

Finally, as we talked about the Tooth Fairy’s impending visit, she made it clear that she did not want the Tooth Fairy to take her tooth. So, we suggested she write the Tooth Fairy a note. Which she promptly did. Of course, TheMonk couldn’t let her have all the fun so he wrote his own addendum to the note at the end.

Tomorrow morning Swee’Pea will be $5 and a pack of sugar-free gum richer. TheMonk will be $1 and a pack of sugar-free gum richer because the Tooth Fairy gives both kids gifts for the first lost tooth in our house.

And me? I’ll be one note richer. Tucked away for eternity to remember this very special day.

Dear Tooth Fairy

August 4, 2010

Tooth Fairy x2

I sit in a corner of a cramped dentist evaluation room as TheMonk’s little body sits in the chair in the center of the room.  The dentist looks at the x-rays and examines TheMonk’s bloodied and bruised gums suffered from a nasty fall on the playground structure at school the previous day.  She gently wiggles each of TheMonk’s two front teeth and she looks at me and says the thing I fear the most: “We’ll need to pull the tooth.”

I nod knowingly and look to TheMonk to reassure him that all will be ok.  I see the fear in his eyes and I silently kick myself for telling him that the dentist was just going to make sure his teeth were okay.  I shouldn’t have made empty promises and now I am paying the price and feeling like a loser.

After the room clears to prep for the extraction, I kneel down beside TheMonk and I ask, “Are you scared, Buddy?”  He nods solemnly and I reach out to comfort him.  “It’s going to be okay, Monkey.  When I was a little boy I had a tooth pulled too.  I was uncomfortable but it was okay.  You’ll be okay too.”

These words seem to relax him a bit and I tell him it’s okay to be scared but that everything will be fine.  We are escorted to a room where he’s weighed and then given a liquid to drink.  We sit on an exam table, waiting for the relaxer to take effect and I can tell TheMonk is still nervous.  Every once in a while he turns to me and cries, “But Daddy, I don’t wanna get my tooth pulled! I want it to fall out on its own!”  I squeeze him tight and reassure him as best I can.

Before we know it we’re in the room where the tooth will be extracted and they get him settled in and he begins to breathe in the nitrous oxide gas while laying on the table watching an episode of Olivia on a TV in the ceiling.  It is then that I’m informed that they will be removing both front teeth.  I protest slightly but I’m told it has to happen as both teeth have shallow roots and won’t survive the trauma.  I consent and continue to watch TheMonk who, at this point, is beyond any trepidation as pharmaceuticals take over and he begins giggling randomly on the table.  I make a mental note to have the “Just say no to drugs” talk with TheMonk earlier rather than later.

Waiting to get teeth pulled

Before we know it both teeth are gone and I carry a sleepy Monk to the car.  We get home, change the gauze, and he crashes on the couch while watching cartoons.  He is an angel and I sit close by and take a deep breath as I realize just how stressed I have been for the past couple of hours.

TheMonk sleeps

When TheMonk awakes after an hour and a half nap he begins to cry as I take the gauze out.  His mouth feels funny but Mommy soon arrives with ice cream to make it all better.  Vanilla ice cream with chocolate syrup makes lots of things better.

Soon after I run to school to pick up Swee’Pea at school and let her know of TheMonk’s teeth.  She takes the news well and is glad to see her brother upon our return to the house.  We soon commence with regular after-school stuff like homework and snacks and getting dinner ready.  As we near dinner Swee’Pea and TheMonk begin talking of the tooth fairy’s impending visit.  It is then that TheMonk and Swee’Pea realize that only he will be getting a visit from the Tooth Fairy.  There is a moment of sadness that lingers in the air until TheMonk suddenly speaks:

“Daddy, can I give one of my teeth to Swee’Pea so the tooth fairy can visit her too?”

And after all the stress of the day, it is this moment that has me fighting back tears.  Yes, Monkey.  You sure can, you sweet, sweet boy.  I’ve never been so proud as I am at this moment.

July 29, 2010

Everything I’m learning, I’m learning from Kindergarteners

She sobbed quietly as she tightly grasped her mother’s hand in a cooler-than-usual late July morning. He grips my other hand with a soft, nonchalant grip as he eagerly walks, for the first time, to the bus stop.

The first day of Kindergarten was very typical for both Swee’Pea and TheMonk. Swee’Pea had good moments and rough moments, including some all-out tears. TheMonk had some trepidation at first but quickly decided he liked Kindergarten and fell in line with all the other kids quickly.

But that first day was just a couple of hours while Mommy and Daddy were in the teacher and a couple more hours without Mommy and Daddy. The second day would be the first full day and it would begin with their first ever ride on a school bus.

As the bus arrives, the nervous Swee’Pea begins to cry. We carry her on the bus and the bus driver, a nice older gentleman, tries to comfort her. We find a seat near the front and Swee’Pea and TheMonk sit down. I ask TheMonk to hold his sister’s hand and he does so dutifully. But it is clear that he is in awe of his surroundings and loves being on that bus. It is also clear that Swee’Pea feels just the opposite.

So Mommy and Daddy exit the bus while we watch Swee’Pea cry from afar. Soon, the bus is loaded up with 32 excited kids and one scared, crying kid and they are off.

Of course, I got in my car and followed the bus. You would too if this was the last think you saw when you exited the bus:

Cheers and Tears

April 21, 2010

Swee’Pea Vs. Bunny Ears

She sits with her feet inches from her face. The shoes that adorn her feet are sparkly and slightly larger than they should be. The laces are long and black and rest gently in her hand as she attempts to tie her shoes. I watch as she crosses the laces and begins to tie the first beginning knot. Already, I can tell she is not crossing it right and as she struggles to make the knot, I offer my assistance.

“Do you need help, Swee’Pea?” I ask.

“NO!” she says says loudly and firmly.

This is a tone that has played itself out many times dating back when she was 18 months old. I know better than to interrupt her intensity. I do, I know better. But I just can’t help it.

Swee’Pea tries again and, once again, she misses the first knot. She is now more than a little agitated.

“Swee,Pea,” I say. “Let me help you.”

“NO! I… Can… Do… it.” she says as she begins to force the laces together as if just pushing them together will result the perfect bow.

“But, Swee’Pea…” I begin.

“I… Don’t… Need… Your… Help… DAD…DY…” She stammers out.

“But…” I say, “It… kinda looks like… you do.”

And as I finish that sentence my words fade away into nothing as her eyes look up from the task at hand to meet mine. No words are exchanged but I can tell from her look that if I say one more thing, she’s going to shove that shoe lace straight up my nose. I decide to keep quiet.

After a few more tries and a few more *sighs* and *grunts*, however, she finally masters the bow and her shoe is nicely tied.

It’s at this point, after several minutes of fury and anger, she looks up at me and gives me the most angelic smile in history.

I pity her future husband.

April 18, 2010

TheMonk and Bunny Ears

He sits on the floor, one knee tucked under his chin, his gaze fixed intently on the camouflaged shoe on his left foot. The laces lie in his stubby little fingers as he carefully forms a loop with lace in his left hand. He’s talking to himself and I slowly inch closer to make out his words. As I get closer I hear him whispering to himself…

“Make a bunny ear. Go around the bunny ear. Push it through the hole. Pull both bunny ears tight…”

I watch as he struggles to pull it tight. This is the part that has troubled him since he started learning to tie his shoes five days earlier. But this time, rather than pull straight out, he pulls down and the bow tightens neatly in his grasp. At last, he has done it and he whips his head up with a grin brighter than the sun and exclaims, “DADDY! I DID IT! I TIED MY SHOE!!”

We make eye contact and my own smile matches his in his moment of accomplishment. And while we exchange high fives and I steal a kiss, I can’t help but wonder when the next milestone will be and how it will be another reminder that my baby boy is growing up. Too fast.

February 18, 2010

Yuck Mouth A Cappella

Recently, while playing with YouTube on my iPhone, I decided to search for some School House Rock videos to play with the kids. Only, after watching a few, I realized that the twins are probably at least a couple of years away from really benefiting from some of the classics like I’m Just a Bill, Conjunction Junction or Interjection!

But then, I found an old, long forgotten favorite. It’s a Public Service Announcement from the American Broadcasting Company featuring Yuck Mouth – a disgusting dude with awful teeth singing about how his name is Yuck Mouth because he doesn’t brush his teeth. I showed this to Swee’Pea and TheMonk and while both enjoy it, Swee’Pea has taken an instant liking to it. After just a few viewings she had mastered the song. Now, when we brush our teeth, Swee’Pea likes to begin with a round of Yuck Mouth. Enjoy.

November 21, 2008

This Day in History

1789 North Carolina becomes the 12th state. (One week later the states founders died of lung cancer.)

1877 Thomas Edison unveils his latest invention, the phonograph. (Shortly thereafter he was busted by the FCC for pirating church hymns)

1944 Ghostbuster Harold Ramis was born. (He came out slimy.)

1945 GM workers go on strike. (At least they had jobs…)

1980 Millions tune in to find out who shot J.R. (And I’m pretty sure most were high on cocaine, too.)

1995 The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished above 5,000 for the first time. (I’m sure that those who bought Lehman Brothers stock were thinking, “I’m gonna retire on this in 15 years!”)

2008 TheMonk, after almost five months of trying, finally goes poop on the potty. (With little fanfare, he sits on the potty and goes. Leaving Dad to scratch his head and go, “huh?”)

July 5, 2008

Potty Time, Excellent!

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all parents are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of a potty trained child.

It’s a little known fact that this was the original wording of the Declaration of Independence that Thomas Jefferson penned over 230 years ago. Apparently, the other dads delegates decided that it was too specific and only covered those who were parents. So, Jefferson changed it and decided it was best to leave the potty training to his slaves.

Fast forward 232 years later and another attempt at freedom was attempted in the United States. While on a much smaller scale, it was no less important for those directly affected by the tyranny of twin toddlers. Mainly, me and my wife. So, in a symbolic gesture to the shedding of the shackles of tyranny that our forefathers declared on July 4, 1776, the Childsplayx2 family declared our freedom from buying diapers in bulk.

That’s right, we potty trained on the Fourth of July.

But first, we prepared. We bought the book Potty Train Your Child in Just One Day which boiled down to these basic tenets

  1. Make sure your kids are ready.
  2. Have your children teach a doll how to poop and pee while watching potty training videos.
  3. Throw the mother of all parties while forcing large amounts of fluids down their throats.
  4. Have them try to go to the potty at least four times an hour and bribe them with small stuff every time they try.
  5. Wrap a bunch of gifts and let the child know they will get a present if they actually pee or poop in the potty.
  6. Because even three-year-olds are materialistic, they will do anything for a 99 cent toy.

Now, the book is written for those odd families that choose to have one kid at a time. You know, the slackers. All I have to say is, you try potty training both a BOY and a GIRL in the same day. In our case, it took us two days.

And, let the record show, that after a full day of trying on Friday, the 4th, no one had actually gone pee in the potty. The had, however, gone pee on the living room floor, the den floor, the kitchen floor, halfway on the kitchen floor and halfway on the living room floor, halfway on the kitchen floor and halfway on the den floor and on the bathroom floor. It wasn’t pretty. The only good thing was that we could tell that both knew when they had to go potty, they just decided to go somewhere else and no amount of cheap toys were going to change their mind.

In fact, the potty training video we chose (“Elmo Takes A Dump” or something like that), kept saying that “accidents are okay.” That became Swee’Pea’s and TheMonk’s mantra every time they stood in their own urine. “Elmo says accidents are okay!” they’d say with their hands out to their sides. After hearing that so many times in a two day span, Elmo could kiss my potty trained butt, if you know what I mean.

Furthermore, the record must reflect that on Saturday morning, July 5th, after eating a breakfast of chocolate chip pancakes and lots and lots of juice, TheMonk decided he really wanted that 88 cent green recorder from Wal-Mart. After a few minutes of talking about our “private parts”, TheMonk peed in the potty!

It would have been extremely exciting but some of the celebration was muted by the fact that Swee’Pea decided (in a bit of sibling jealousy, perhaps?) to pee on the kitchen floor while TheMonk was still on the pot. However, it was poetic justice that TheMonk peed first. Considering that Swee’Pea walked first, talked first, and generally does everything first, it was nice to see TheMonk do something first for a change. In fact, I didn’t realize how badly he wanted it until Friday when he told me that “I’m winning, Daddy” when he tried to pee (he wasn’t winning, but whatever gets him motivated) and then told both Mommy and Daddy before going to bed on Friday night that he was going to pee first. Seems TheMonk was determined to finish first in something.

Swee’Pea seemed a little frightened about actually going pee in the potty. She loved the M&Ms she got for trying and loved to sit on the pot but would often get off the pot and then, moments later, pee on the floor. After much reassurance and some timely potty sitting (she couldn’t hold it anymore and finally had to pee while sitting on the potty) she too was awarded her first toy of the day late Saturday afternoon.

So, all in all, the day ended well. Swee’Pea went pee in the potty twice while TheMonk went at least five times. In fact, TheMonk got so good at sitting on the pot, that he adopted some of his old man’s style of taking care of business…

I am so, so proud.

March 10, 2008

Tastes Like Chicken

To my beautiful daughter,

You have entered a stage of development where you have become a bit picky with what you choose to ingest. You used to be the best eater in the world (Besides your brother – but you can’t compete against that boy. He sucks down anything in a 5-foot radius.). You would eat anything I put on your tray. I mean, I put down oatmeal with brown sugar on your breakfast tray every weekday morning for a year straight and you shoveled it down like you’d never tasted something so freaking delicious. Then, one day, you looked me right in the eye and said…

“Daddy, I no like eat-mo-meal.”

And just like that it was on. You decided that some days blueberries were the fruit of the gods and other days that you wouldn’t touch that blueberry if Dora herself handed it to you. In fact, there were days when you’d eat nothing but fruit. Bananas, pears and nectarines were the staple of your diet. You became a total fruitarian overnight. While I complained constantly, your brother did not complain one bit. After all, you were sitting within that five foot radius. He devoured your leftovers like a little pound puppy.

So, while you have suddenly become a food critic who only appreciates the finest of cuisines and since I happen to make many of your meals and I cannot help but take these jabs at my culinary skills personally, I would like to address something that came up this weekend that, in light of the circumstances, needs to be further discussed.

You have been fighting a cold, little one. Your little nose has been stuffed with all sorts of gooey, green, slimy substances. And while you are adept at blowing your nose, even your little honking was no match for what was oozing out of your nostrils on a continuous basis. And, it just so happens, that this weekend I watched as you walked by me. You did not notice me watching you but as you walked by, you stuck your right index finger so far up your nose I thought it might be lost forever. But, instead, you came out with some green treasure. And just as I was about to lean over and show you the nearby tissue box where you could deposit that little nugget, you promptly popped it into your mouth. Mmmmmm. Mmmmmm. Good.

So, the next time you tell me you’re not going to eat any of the food I labored hard to provide you, I’m not going to take it personally. After all, since you seem to enjoy a good booger hors’doeuvre from time to time you’ll forgive me if I don’t get too offended.

January 28, 2008

But on the whole I’ve been a saint

I should probably tell you, for posterity’s sake, that earlier this month – right after the new year – we had grand ideas of potty training Swee’Pea and TheMonk. We took them to Babies-R-Gonnaget-Us and we picked out a potty seat. We then picked out underwear. Swee’Pea chose Dora and Princess underwear while TheMonk decided on Lighting McQueen, Mater, and the whole Cars Movie gang.

We bought the little flushable “Todder wipes” that sit in their own colorful little tub for the extra wiping that was anticipated once our little ones decided to unleash their insides into the proper receptacle.

We even bought little stools to help them get up onto their porcelain throne.

And this might be a good time to mention that I was not looking forward to this at all. The thought of peeling clothes soaked in bodily fluids off a toddler while suffering through the sobs of anguish was more than I could bear. Besides, I hate it when I cry in front of the kids.

But I’m a good dad. And good dads always agree with good moms when they say, “I think we should start potty training the kids.” But my heart was not in it. This is the one time where I am really moaning about having twins. If we had just one, then it wouldn’t be such a big deal because the wife and I could trade off cleaning up the mess. We would have only one mess to clean up and the kid would decide when he or she was ready and we’d all do the potty dance and live happily ever after.

With two, it’s messier. With two, one might be farther along than another, not really be ready, but damnit is not going to miss the opportunity to wear underwear with a red car plastered on his behind. Two is more, you see.

But after two days of trying, 12 changes of clothes and three carpet washes later, we threw in the towel (We had to, it was soaked in urine).

So, no potty dances yet. Unless you count the one I did when my wife admitted defeat.

So, do I feel guilty that I wasn’t too into the potty training thing? Yeah, a little. I mean, I’m sure the other kids at daycare laugh at my kids and call them names like Diaper Dude and Daisy Diaper but it won’t be the last time my kids are embarrassed because of their old man.

At this rate, I wouldn’t mind just timing my work breaks to go and change diapers during Kindergarten. I mean, I wouldn’t want the other kids to make fun of them or anything. If only they made a size 10 diaper.

The title of this post is from an 80′s song. Can you name it?
(This is the hardest one yet, in my opinion.)

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