Wednesday, July 28, 2010
Was it two years ago…? Three? I’ve lost count
All I do know is that, at one point, Erik and I were sure that we were going to send Noah off to college dressed as a pirate
Good luck with the...er... ladies, son...
I think it all started off pretty harmlessly… Noah got a book called Pirates Don’t Change Diapers
And then he started calling us bilge rats
Soon after, we got Disneyland annual passports
And for awhile, every time I closed my eyes, I saw caves filled with skeletons and gold, and I heard that god-awful drone… ‘Yo ho, Yo ho… ‘
Because after riding Pirates of the Caribbean for the 1,156th time… it gets old
At first our families indulged Noah’s obsession.
They thought it was cute
They took him on treasure hunts, agreed to sword fights and took him to pirate-themed festivals
We went to visit Erik’s parents one weekend at the peak of Noah’s obsession and made the egregious mistake of forgetting Noah’s pirate captain hat.
Then the world almost ended
So they made him a hat out of a Trader Joe’s bag and drew a skull and crossbone on the front
Real legit like
Then all was right with the world
Inevitably, the cute wore off
Conversations started to go a little something like this:
Grandpa: “Hey Noah, how’s school going? Whatcha learning?”
Noah: “Stuff. Hey grandpa did you know Pirates drink rum?”
Grandpa: “Yeah I did. So are you still friends with that Landon fellow?’”
Noah: “I guess. Can I have $21?”
Grandpa: “What do you need $21 for?”
Noah: “Pirate bath toys”
Noah quickly amassed a weapons collection that would make Attila the Hun jealous.
I am the idiot parent that bought my son 123 swords. And 5 hooks. And 74 eye patches. And 1 very scary battle ax.
And our lives quickly became about avoiding Noah’s favorite new pastime: sword fights
He was sneaky though. He would tell me he had a present for me, and after I closed my eyes he would stick a fluorescent sword in my outstretched hand and assume a fighting position
I fell for it every time
We knew things had gone too far when he tried to convince us to name his new sister Captain Hook
Erik tried to reason with Noah. Surely this pirate thing had gone on long enough?
Noah told Erik “Daddy. My brain tells me to be a pirate. That’s my choice”
We became borderline despondent
Smiled sheepishly at restaurants when he would challenge our waiter to a sword fight with his straw
Cringed visibly when we would hear him singing sea chanteys an hour after we had put him to bed
Exploited the hell out of the situation when Noah refused to get a haircut and we happened to stumble across a barber who looked like a pirate version of Santa Claus
Noah calls him Captain Claus
He only charges $7 per haircut. But I digress…
Pirate lunch boxes, clothes, shoes, blankets, CDs, movies and toys
I want this for my birthday... and this, and this, and this....
Pirate dinnerware, flags, balloons, cupcakes and bedroom door nameplates.
Pirate baseball caps
Pirate beach towels
Pirate rubber duckies
Pirate lawn chairs
And yet, after having spent a small fortune on this span of pirate paraphernalia, the sun seems to be setting on Noah’s pirate fixation.
And we are tired.
And 4,358 dollars poorer
Incidentally, if anyone happens to know where I can find an original Star Wars lightsaber, complete with Luke Skywalker’s signature on it, please let me know ASAP.
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Until my good friend Simone shook me and said "Andrea! Stop being stupid. Noah is six months old"
And I knew she was right of course. I knew the evil gleam in his eye when he pulled my hair was merely a figment of my imagination.
Eva is a different story.
Eva knows how to work me.
And then all of a sudden I realize I've been leaning over her crib rail, rubbing her back for two hours straight and I've lost all feeling in my legs.
Eva plays me like one of these
The thing is... Eva is a master manipulator.
She works me into a false sense of security.
There are days when I plop her into her stroller and she promptly turns her head to one side and goes to sleep
That's one sneaky baby
And then whoever we happen to be with that day goes on and on about what a "good baby" Eva is and how I'm "so lucky"
And I'm just gullible enough to believe it.
Until we get home.
And she turns into Eva the Diva
Leave me alone Mom, I'm going to be a STAR
Hey Karma... what are you laughing at?
Thursday, July 22, 2010
Feels like just yesterday I was calling my grandma at six in the morning, crying and telling her there was no way, no how, that I could keep this tiny, perfect ball-of-love alive for more than a week.
She came right over and made me albondiga soup.
mmmmm.... this soup makes everything better
My grandma is kind of a rock star.
ANYway, I remember the day I first dropped Noah off at daycare.
He was nine months old and Barbara, the person in charge of the infant room, the keeper of our children, the mother of earth, the most wonderful and warm woman we have ever known, took one look at me and told Erik “You better get her out of here, she’s about to lose it…”
And I thought “That’s weird, I feel fine…”
I thought that until the moment I collapsed on the sidewalk out front, sobbing that I couldn’t “leave my baby…”
This is the exact spot where I collapsed
Erik dragged me home and Noah has been going to the Harry and Grace Steele Children’s Center ever since.
There is no one else I would trust more to help me raise my kids.
Future taggers of America
But the time is fast approaching where I won’t be handing him off to the loving arms I’ve come to know… and it’s killing me.
In three weeks Noah will be in a production of Moby Dick (that Erik helped coordinate of course)
Fedallah is the one the whale is trying to eat... I think
He’ll play Fedallah, he’ll sail on the Pequod, he’ll go after the white whale and fail… and when it’s over he’ll have to say goodbye.
Noah doesn’t understand what this means yet, though we’ve tried to explain it to him, in the nicest way possible.
He’ll be fine, of course.
Because kids adapt―we expect them to―and he will make new friends, adjust to his new routine, start new adventures.
If he feels any pain from the loss of his school, his friends, the life he’s always known, we probably won’t know it, because he’s not the kind of kid to say so.
They will hand me a fat folder, filled with teacher progress reports, pictures, art projects and love.
This will probably be in the folder...
A folder that has chronicled the most difficult journey of my life.
Meanwhile, I’m not ready to say goodbye, even though I know it's the way things are supposed to be.
Without this school… without this school I have no idea what or where we’d be.
It was Barbara who introduced Erik to another student’s dad, a teacher at Orange Coast College, and suggested he ask about a job there.
It was this boy’s dad who helped Erik get the part-time, and then the full-time, job that has made our wonderful lives possible.
It was Barbara who made our worlds stop spinning the day a pediatrician suggested we have Noah tested for Autism.
It was Rayline who sat Noah on the toilet, day after day, until he stopped being convinced the toilet was going to swallow him whole.
Thank you Rayline!!
It was Peggy who hugged our son when his friends didn’t want to be friends with him anymore.
It was Peggy who said “I’ll be your friend” and un-broke our little boy’s heart.
It was Debbie who opened up our Noah’s imagination, and allowed him to be the pirate he always dreamed of being.
Thank you Debbie!!
The teachers at this school have taught our son to be compassionate, honest, generous and strong.
At this school Noah learned how to walk, how to eat with a spoon and fork, how to run, how to get really dirty, how to use a scooter and then a bike, how to climb, how to draw, how to write his name, how to live…
It certainly has not been cheap to send Noah there.
But for us, what we’ve gotten in return is priceless.
In this, we feel we’ve scored the deal of a lifetime.
I fear that Noah’s time at the Harry and Grace Steele Children’s Center will end much the same as it started… with me sobbing on the front sidewalk, scared about what lies ahead of my boy.
But one thing, and one thing only, will give me the strength to get in my car and drive away…
Eva started in Barbara’s class this summer
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
It took a lot of pleading, begging, cajoling and back-rubbing to convince Erik to get a dog. He’s never had one and was raised in a family that thinks dogs are smelly, drooly beasts.
I craved puppy love hard. The chewing on my fingers (and everything else) with their sharp little teeth; the soft, wrinkly skin that’s too big for their pudgy little bodies; the puppy breath that smells like kibble but is surprisingly tolerable; the shenanigans, the crying at 2 am because they want to play, the sleeping all day in your arms because they played all night… I craved it all.
I spent a lot of time thinking about what kind of puppy I wanted. As sweet as my Noah is, he is a standard rough-and-tumble little boy and I needed a puppy that could take a few hits without retaliating.
My dreams of owning an English Bulldog named “Garbanzo” were thus dashed, as they are notorious for being sluggish, ornery and dropping dead prematurely… try explaining to your 4-year-old why Fido laid down and died after a vigorous game of fetch (hey, I don’t mince words…)
So imagine my delight when I discovered Boston Terriers!
Lively, active, happy dogs with the same smooshed-up bulldog face.
My mind was made up after we visited my sister in Norcal and I caught Erik cuddling with her friend’s Boston “Baxter” on the couch.
Baxter is a very GOOD Boston Terrier
We did our homework, found a nearby breeder, decided to name him Herman Melville (okay Erik decided, I was so delirious with the thought of my brand new puppy that Erik could’ve named him boogers and poop and I would’ve gone along with it)
**Disclaimer** Erik would probably like me to explain at this point that a) Herman Melville, who wrote Moby Dick, was born in Boston and b) Erik wrote a chunk of his dissertation on books by Herman Melville and I would say he is a Melvinian scholar (he would never be so shameless)
ANYway… we brought little Herman Melville home. Now before I explain what happened next I’ve gotta get something off my chest. A confession, if you will.
On that fateful drive home from the breeder’s house in Temecula, there was… an incident.
On the 91 freeway, I think somewhere around Corona, I hit the brakes a little too hard and Herman Melville went flying head first into the dashboard. It really wasn’t pretty and I felt pretty bad.
He didn’t make a peep (no crying or whining) but sometimes I wonder if there mightn’t have been some brain damage that day….
ANYwho… our lives with Mel have been… DIFFERENT than we thought they’d be. Don’t get me wrong, we LOVE him (MOST of the time) but we had some surprises in store…
First of all, active and lively quickly became psychotic and ADHD.
We have actually had a serious conversation about getting Mel some doggy Ritalin.
We are much too old and tired to deal with Mel’s hyperactivity. Even Noah, with his tireless little boy energy, can’t keep up.
It is getting better as Mel is getting older… and by getting better I mean that he only jumps on me two or three times per greeting and he only pulls a little on the leash now during walks (though this might be because I finally caved and bought one of the choke chains with the claws that dig into his neck… )
Second, Mel is… how do I put this nicely?
National Geographic did a special a couple of years ago on different dog breeds and when they got to Boston Terriers the first thing they highlighted was their infamous flatulence. They explained that because Boston’s have those cute little smooshed up faces, they inhale an excessive amount of air and when it comes out the other end… it ain’t pretty.
Mel can't come inside until he gets his gas under control
NOWHERE in our “did our homework” phase did this (very important) detail arise… nowhere.
Riding in the car with Mel, with the windows up, is not an option. He smells. Thus, he has become, Herman SMELLville.
Mel eats everything. Especially things he is not supposed to eat.
Mel ate two of these
He has had his stomach pumped. Erik says one more trip to animal emergency to pump poisonous flowers out of Mel’s tummy and it’s Bye Bye Doggie.
Mel failed doggie school. He’s a doggie school dropout. ‘Nuff said.
Where can I get me one of these???
When we go on hikes with our dog walking group, they make us tie a yellow ribbon around Mel’s collar. This tells the other doggies that Mel has socialization… issues.
Mel is a humping machine. If you bring it, Mel will hump it.
Mel gravely offends all other dogs… just by being Mel.
That last statement isn’t true…. Mel has one doggie friend. A French bulldog named Jacques that lives around the corner. The only thing gayer than Jacques is his owner.
Mel craves our love. Desperately.
Erik calls Mel his “sweet boy”
Mel really is a sweet boy… he would never bite us, no matter how many times we yell “Bad Dog!”He really is a bad dog… with a good heart.
A year and a half ago I tried to give away Mel. I did. I confess. But Erik said hell no, Mel is OUR dog.
He really is our dog.