Archive for the 'Fatherhood' category

A spring day

May 04 2010 Published by under Fatherhood, Narcissistic self-involvement

Most mornings, I get up with my daughter, or more accurately, I wake her up. We have our little morning rituals---I turn on her lamp (or this time of the year, open her shade), pick her up and take her downstairs (something I might not be able to do for much longer). I turn on the TV and let her wake up slowly---she's not the morning person I am. Usually, there's a good deal of whining and moaning, stalling and kvetching. This morning, though, she was up and ready to go. Today, her family was coming to see her in a school play, and she had memorized her lines and just about everyone else's. When I dropped her at school, there was no hesitation, just a quick "Bye, Daddy" and a leap out of the car.
The play was, of course, cute, and her mother signed her out from school afterward citing "fun" as a reason. We ate lunch together at a local deli and then I got on the road to Grand Rapids, a town I've driven by but never visited.
Driving across Michigan in the spring is, it turns out, quite nice. After passing through the remainder of my own metropolitan area, a typical Midwestern countryside opened up, with tractors in the fields, horses grazing, large windowless pig farms (at least I think that's what they were) and occasional auto-related factories sprouting out of the otherwise bucolic landscape. The diversity of farmsteads that I could see from the highway was fascinating. Some were large complexes with many metal silos and huge John Deere machines turning up dust. Others were a farmhouse and a shed on a couple of acres with a tractor pulling a plow. They were all beautiful.
And then I arrived in Grand Rapids. Michigan isn't a state with a lot of navigable rivers, being an old sea basin, but the riverfront here is beautiful, with well-kept pedestrian walks, gentle rapids, occasional fishermen, and some sort of prolifically-breeding spring insect.
All this is giving me a nice bit of distraction before my conference presentation tomorrow which I might otherwise be worrying over obsessively.
Before pulling out of the driveway, I told my kiddo I'd Skype her tonight. Her surprised smile was the best part of the day.

6 responses so far

Chalk one up for spring

Mar 21 2010 Published by under Fatherhood

After a week of fine weather, the first weekend of spring was forecast to be cold, rainy, and snowy. I love it when they're wrong.
I would love to be able to sleep in, but if I can't sleep in, I don't mind the sound of tiny footsteps. After whipping up a batch of heart-shaped Daddy pancakes, the kiddo and I took off for work. It wasn't looking good out---cloudy, windy, a little bitter.
Rounds were brief, and we had time for a stop at the bookstore before lunch. PalKid loves to go to our local sushi joint for rice, edemame, and udon soup, and to watch me eat various raw and wriggly things.
After a brief rest, the kiddo noticed something---the sun was out, and so were the neighbor kids. It's funny how in this part of the world everyone disappears for the winter, popping out like crocuses as soon as the snow melts. We took a couple of turns around the block on the Trail-a-bike with the neighbor girls close behind, and then PalKid was ready---she wanted to take off her training wheels. Luckily, my neighbor has taught three girls how to ride already, and he lent a hand. In a little while, she was taking a few yards of road and making them her own---until falling off and skinning her knee, milking the injury for all it was worth.
I was pretty sure we'd be locked inside all day, looking for a good movie to watch. Seeing my kid take her first---brief and tentative---bike ride beats it hands down.

4 responses so far


Feb 22 2010 Published by under Fatherhood

Every morning I get to wake up my daughter and get her ready for school, but often that's the last time I see her until the next day. The other day, my wife took her out of school to go to the dentist (apparently the entire school became aware of this just after my daughter). Despite her initial boisterous objections, she did quite well at the dentist, and thanks to technology, I was able to share in the experience---my wife sent me an MMS of my daughter showing me her three loose teeth.
My baby. Losing her baby teeth. This. Isn't. Cool.
But she's excited, and she should be. No matter what I may wish, she will keep growing up. Certain things are inevitable.
Most nights I don't come home until about 9:30, well after the little PalKid has gone off to sleep. But she knows that Tuesday nights belong to us. I come home early, and we either go out as a family, or I take her out to a little sushi place down the street. My schedule is regular enough, and she is rigid enough, that when there is a change, she knows it. A week or so ago, I took the morning off to be with her on a snow day. Her cousin slept over, and after making them Daddy Waffles, we suited up and went sledding on the front lawn, with its dangerous 2 degree slope. She couldn't believe I was there to push her on the sled.
Every second with the kiddo is precious, from cuddling on the couch, to clipping her nails while she turns on the drama. So the other night when I went to pick her up at her little friend's house and she begged me to let her sleep over, I wouldn't let go.
"Are you sure you don't want to come home and cuddle?"
"Daddy, I want to sleep over! Pleeeeeease?"
The damned kid is losing her teeth, sleeping over at her friend's house, and generally growing up like a normal kid. I guess I'm going to have to be OK with that. But the house sure was quiet the next morning.

11 responses so far

Sunday morning goodies

Jan 03 2010 Published by under Fatherhood

I woke up way too early---my damned sinuses. After a good lavage I managed to fall back asleep until a little warm body curled up next to me and used one of its appendages to turn on the TV. That's when I realized how hungry I was. I left the kiddo to her shows and poked around the kitchen.
I ran out of waffle mix, so I googled up a recipe and whipped up some batter. Then I put up my coffee. As a bonus, I found a pound of bacon in the fridge, so I put up some of that as well.
A short time later, the house smelled like breakfast. While MrsPal slept in, PalKid and I enjoyed a breakfast of waffles, real U.P. maple syrup, Peet's coffee (water for her) and good company.
I need more mornings like this one.

9 responses so far

Merry Chirstm--er--

Dec 10 2009 Published by under Fatherhood

It's not always easy to figure out that you are not normative. If you grow up in an ethnic enclave, when you're young you probably think everyone is black/Spanish-speaking/Korean. When I was a little kid one of my parents' friends remarried. I remarked on how the new wife was Jewish. My mom corrected me.
"But Mom, she talks Jewish."
"No, honey, she's just from New Jersey."
If you're visibly different from the majority, or you speak a language other than English, you learn pretty quickly what "normal" is supposed to be---and it's not you. My daughter has grown up in an area of mixed ethnicity, with the majority of our neighbors being white and Christian, but she is around other Jewish families a lot. She understands that there are "Channukah people" and "Christmas people". When we were at the hospital last week I showed her the big tree and all the decorations. She said, "Daddy, where is the Channukah suff?"
I'd never really thought about it. I've known for a long time that ethnically (and politically) I'm a minority. I looked around the first floor of the hospital and found a small Channukah menorah in a cabinet in one of the side hallways.
I've long since figured out how to respond to the constant litany of "Merry Christmas" and the uncomfortable looks of people who start to say it an pause. For her, it's all new. I wonder how she's going to integrate all of this.

84 responses so far

Winter mornings

Dec 08 2009 Published by under Fatherhood

My kid is growing, and I'm of course ambivalent about it. It's not that she's becoming some sort of giant---she's still a tiny little thing, but now she picks up books and starts reading them. When she does, I usually start shouting excitedly, but she reminds me that I'm not allowed to be excited. She wants to enjoy her new powers in peace.
She's outgrowing her car seat, especially when bundled up for winter. And with Midwestern winters being what they are, she's bundled more mornings than not. It's time for me to buy a booster.
When I wake up in the morning, I take my shower, shave, get dressed, and walk into my daughter's room. I turn on a lamp and wait a moment; in a minute or so, she stirs, stretches, and reaches up to me. I pick her up, which is getting harder and harder, and I walk downstairs and plop her on the couch. I have to place the pillow just right and turn on the TV with the lights off. This routine allows her to wake up without freaking the fuck out.
While she slowly joins the day, I make her breakfast and get her snack and lunch into her backpack. After breakfast, dressing, and ablutions comes the bundling. I put on her scarf, hat, gloves, and jacket, then strap on her pack. She looks like a little astronaut.
And when I drop her off at school and she walks away from the car, she is again impossibly small. The little package of winter clothes topped by an impossibly large backpack reminds me of how little my precious kiddo is. I've been accused of spoiling her; just try and stop me.

12 responses so far

Another tricky day

Dec 05 2009 Published by under Fatherhood

I wanted to sleep in this morning, but somehow it's tough to change gears that quickly. I don't normally get up too early---6:30---but I really felt like sleeping in. I made it to 7:00. That early, I have the house to myself, so I brewed up a pot of some killer new coffee that Dr. Free-Ride sent me (thanks!) and enjoyed the silence. After an all-too-short period of peace and quiet I had to wake up PalKid.
I'm a bit blown away by how busy my little family is. MrsPal had to work most of the day so I took PalKid to dance after being "forced" to make "daddy waffles" (from scratch). The dance studio has WiFi, so while she danced I was able to go online and make my reservations for ScienceOnline10. At the end of the class all the parents get to come in and watch for a few minutes, but one little girl couldn't find her daddy---he was working on his computer and must have wandered to the bathroom or something. She looked sad.
I had a bunch of admissions last night so my folks were kind enough to let me drop off the kiddo at their place for a while while I rounded at the hospital. Then I ran home, kissed my wife, shoved my kid into her party clothes and ran her over to a birthday party where a bunch of little girls greeted her with screams and hugs.
After my brief respite at the coffee shop (with some annoying loudmouth at the table next to me) I'll pick her up and we'll all go to a Channukah party at the house of my oldest and dearest friend.
I'm willing to take bets on when the kid will melt down from exhaustion.

7 responses so far

Dear Bigot

Nov 03 2009 Published by under Fatherhood


Thank you for polluting my in box with a hateful, lie-filled chain letter. It took me all of ten seconds on the internet to find the truth behind your lie and thereby discover what a tool you are. I'm sure it would have seemed natural to you that because we share an ethnic identity I would give you a pass on this one---I won't. My wife and I are not raising our daughter in a household of hatred, but of love. She will learn to love and respect everyone, and even to reach out to those, who like you, may not at first seem deserving of such a precious gift.
My daughter is surrounded by people of many backgrounds and religions, and has learned a respect for different beliefs. She may not always feel that way, but when she feels afraid of something different she asks questions rather than lashing out at the unknown. This is the difference between compassionate intelligence and loathsome stupidity.
My daughter is a better person than I am. She would likely embrace you, loathsome correspondent, as a human being worthy of respect and love, regardless of background and beliefs.
I'm not there yet.

25 responses so far

All I want for Christmas...

Oct 25 2009 Published by under Fatherhood

My daughter handed my wife a hand-written Channukah wish-list which I will reproduce for you in its entirety:

  1. Barbie remote corvette
  2. Barbie camper
  3. Ken doll
  4. For real elephant

I'm not sure which one we will get her, but I have my biases.

23 responses so far

"Daddy, why is it only mens?"

Oct 24 2009 Published by under Fatherhood

For some reason, me and the PalKid were watching Apollo 13 this morning. She was fascinated by the story, especially because it's a true story. During the lift off, the camera panned around the control room, and she said, "Daddy, how come there's only mens? Are girls not allowed in space?"
Those of us who advocate diversity in science are often asked, "how could it matter what faces are in the crowd?"
Here's your answer.

28 responses so far

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