Monday, December 31, 2007

Welcome To My Herb Farm

It's come to my attention that sifting through the letters I've sent your way, you two might be under the impression that I'm not anxiously awaiting your arrival. That because I don't find pink socks particularly exciting I don't care about your tiny feet. That because I harbor fears that my own life will soon be over that I'm not excited for yours to begin. That because I didn't particularly want kids, I don't want the two of you. Allow me to clear this up.

Based on the evidence I've seen, meaning the books, the surveys, and my own exposure to families, I don't think I'm really cut out for kids. I do not dream of picket fences or soccer games, packing lunches or playdates. When people reference these things I often fail to show the proper level of enthusiasm. When people used to ask me if I wanted kids, I would think of my friend's children, all of whom were wonderful people, but none of whom I really wanted to take home with me, and I would say no, not really.

I didn't really think I was cut out for marriage either. I spent several years trying to convince your mother that we should live in a commune, grow herbs, and rechristen ourselves with the names of wildflowers. Bluebonnet, I would say, why do we have to do what everyone else does? Why can't we just raise oregano and free ourselves from the little boxes that 'the man' is always trying to force us into? And then your mother would tell me not to call her Bluebonnet and the discussion would end.

The point is, I have a horrible fear of waking up one day and feeling like my life came from page 32 of some catalog. Oh, you got the one with the two kids and the Honda? My brother and my neighbor have that one. How's it working out? It's like driving through a suburban development where every fourth house is the same. I mean, your name's on the title, but if it's just like everyone else's, how can it really be yours? So when I think of marriage and kids in the abstract, that's what I think of, a house like 16 others on the block, and little terrors who try to pull it down when you put them to bed.

But I didn't marry an abstract concept, and to the best of my knowledge there's nothing theoretical about either of you. I married your mom, not because I was suddenly into the idea of doing what everyone else had done, but because I was madly, deeply, and ridiculously in love with her. And all my fears that simply going through with a ceremony would somehow make us like all those who had been through it before, were unfounded. I'm as stupid and she's as beautiful as we were the day we met.

So no, I don't want kids because I'm suddenly fired up about little socks and pink outfits, and when you ask me about those things I'm as likely to groan as I ever was. But when it comes to you two, the feet that kick my hand, the ears that have already suffered through my songs, the faces in soupy black and white, there's nothing I'm looking forward to more than shaking your hands and asking about the trip. After that I can't guarantee that I'll do a damn thing right, or that I won't occasionally panic about turning into everyone else and ask you to move to my herb farm, but that won't be because I don't care. It will be because I want you to be more mine, not less. Sometimes when you really want something to feel like it belongs to you, your biggest fear is that it will get mixed up with everyone else's.

Novel - 9 days until update
Dunking - I have several more pounds to move vertically
French - Bon nuit

Friday, December 28, 2007

Merry Pink Christmas

We did Christmas a little late this year, so all your unborn friends have probably been bragging about their haul for days while you two have been forced to wait. The upside is that you two cleaned up. You're not even born and I think you probably came out ahead of me. There were a lot of packages with my name on them, but unless I develop a use for half inch pink socks I think most of the stuff was for you. If I needed any reminders that people don't see me as a person anymore, but a father, I needed look no farther than the Christmas tree.

We got a big check that's supposed to go towards getting you guys some furniture, but I'm thinking about hijacking that for an Xbox. If that sounds like it's for me, you're confused. I'm just more concerned about helping develop your hand eye coordination than giving you a place to sleep. Does that make me a bad parent? Well, yes, I guess when you see it written down it does kind of point that way.

I blame your mom. Walking around with the two of you hanging off the front of her, it's an invitation to talk about the babies. I love you two, but it's too much for me right now. I need a week or two without answering questions about your diapers or college funds. I need a weekend where someone doesn't talk to me about sleep deprivation. I need a day without pink.

Maybe you'll be inventors and you'll come up with some sort of invisible baby belt that expectant parents wear so no one sees what's coming. You tell them you're pregnant, you have a chat about it, and then everyone forgets for nine moths, until presto, out you come. Maybe I'm in the minority. Maybe there's a legion of folks out there who can't wait to talk about poop and preschool, the sooner the better. But I doubt it. I kind of think that if you could put together an invention like that, one that lets you simultaneously be pregnant and have a conversation about something else, well, my people would rise up and clear them off the shelves. I kind of think that if you do that, you can put yourselves through college. And if nothing else, that's one less question I'd have to answer.

I wonder if there's a culture that doesn't have a word for pink. If so we might have to consider relocation.

Novel - Update this week
Dunking - New year, new program
French - Your aunt speaks German, we're seeing if she'll work for 45 cents an hour

Sunday, December 23, 2007

$50 Movies!

I keep meaning to explain the depth and origins of my most apparent trait, cheapness, but my second most apparent trait, laziness, always gets in the way. I usually boil it down the following: if I was schizophrenic I probably wouldn't even share with myself. If I've used that line before, I apologize. Repetitiveness is my number 3.

Anyway, I was talking to some parents the other day, something I've decided I should probably stop doing, and they were filling me in on the cost of childcare. Apparently it costs around 15 bucks an hour to get someone to look after one of you, more for two. That means it would cost your mom and I 30 bucks minimum to leave the house for two hours. Assuming that we could somehow walk out of our front door and into a theater, by the time you added tickets and so forth, it would cost more than 50 dollars just to see a movie. I wouldn't pay 50 dollars to see a movie if I was starring in it and Angelina Jolie was playing my sexually precocious maid.

When my good friends had kids they always seemed to disappear. The rest of us would get together and wonder about them, remember them, pour beer on the sidewalk in memory of them. They seemed like prisoners. You can't come out for one drink? we'd say. You can't get away for one party? If they'd have said, 'look I like you, but you're not worth 15 dollars and hour' I would have totally understood. It's no wonder most of them haven't seen a movie since Titanic.

After I heard this I started looking at ads on craigslist for nannies and babysitters. One ad caught my eye as reasonable, 60 dollars a week for 12 hours a day. Sadly, it was someone offering to pay that amount, not someone offering to work for it. Presumably the people who would work for it had done the math and seen that it works out to 45 cents an hour. Now, that's in my price range.

The thing about me is that you never want me weighing things in dollar terms. I can spend twenty minutes in front of a value meal menu trying to figure out how to save a dime. If I have to start putting a price on GOING OUTSIDE then I'm going to go all hermit in no time. I will shun the light and grow a beard and stop communicating with the outside world just to avoid hearing about things that might cost 15 dollars to go do. If you knew how bad my beard looks you'd be as worried about this as I am.

I used to think that stage parents were some of the lowest forms of life, putting their kids in front of cameras in the hopes of vicariously living out their own failed dreams of stardom and vaguely hoping to get a cookbook deal out of the whole thing. Now I'm not so sure they're not just looking for a way to get some extra scratch so they can see a movie and grab a burger once in a while. Maybe this is why you see so many young kids dragged into R rated films. How many slasher films seem worth 50 bucks? Economically speaking, it makes way more sense to just scar your children for life. If you end up looking anything like me you probably won't have faces for the big screen, but given the numbers I'm afraid that we're going to have to seriously consider putting you to work somehow. Consider yourselves lucky we don't have any salt mines nearby.

Novel - Update after the break
Dunking - 29 inches. New program after the break
French - Saw and ad for a french nanny. Will let you know how she feels about 45 cents an hour.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Happy -.5 Birthday

Apparently you're halfway to zero. Congratulations. The fact that your mom insists on celebrating these milestones leads me to believe that there are going to be a frightening number clown and pony related parties once you start hitting positive numbers. Your mom also had a birthday yesterday and mine's right around the corner so it seems like as good a time as any to fill you in on how these work.

1-10 These are good the good ones. Clowns and ponies aside, you essentially get a bunch of your friends together, add sugar, and everyone wrestles. Well, that's what we did at my parties anyway. Actually, I might have just had the one party when I was eight. And come to think of it, I don't remember any wrestling at other people's houses, so maybe I've got this all wrong. If your pin someone the first time we send you to a party and people look at you like it's inappropriate, tell them it's your father's fault.

11-18 Increasingly object oriented. You want things. RC planes, game systems, newer game systems, cell phones, cars, etc. and you evaluate the quality of the birthday based on what you get, which is mostly clothes and savings bonds (again, I can only speak from personal experience). Parties become increasingly complicated. You can't just move the furniture and scream "Cage Match!" anymore (the more I dwell on this the more atypical is seems). Who gets invited, who comes, what they wear, who says what to who, all this crap eventually begins to seep in and pretty soon no one wants to come to your lasertag and putt putt extravaganza because having fun is lame. You anxiously tick off the years the way inmates scratch at calendars so that you can be an adult and sell your stupid clothes and savings bonds and buy important things, like 40 inch speakers for your 15 year old car so that when you drive around people will hear your loose trunk lid vibrating and know that you are not to be trifled with.

19-21 If you do it right you've gone away to school and these are your first birthdays on your own. Likely there is heavy, though not legal, drinking, and you spend the first day of each new year on a bathroom floor. Everyone agrees this is way fun. You kind of stop getting gifts, or they tend to be the kinds of things your friends found in their car on the way over. "Um, we got you this package of gum and 73 cents. Happy birthday" These are as close as you will come to the wrestling parties of old.

22-28 Oddly, the more legal your drinking becomes, the less aggressively you do it. Eventually you decide that vomiting is not the only way to end an evening. The parties get progressively smaller until you end up just eating dinner with some friends and begging the waiter not to sing to you. If you've been in a relationship for any amount of time, your presents start being things that you were going to buy anyway, but timing dictates that they get wrapped and presented as gifts. This is how you end up with birthday vacuums and printers.

29-30 Suddenly the calendar starts reading like a death clock. You probably throw a big 30th, embrace the reaper as he saws the 2 off the two in your decade count and replaces it with a 3, and depending on how closely your life resembles what you predicted when you turned twenty, you may once again end up drinking yourself into a night on the bathroom floor. Gifts become cards, or if you have kids at this point you start getting stuff that's really for them by proxy (strollers, toddler carrying backpacks, etc). People think you're joking about that Xbox, and any suggestion that there should be wrestling results in weeks of unreturned calls and emails.

30+ So far it seems like the key to these is whether or not you're still getting better at something. If you're say, an NBA player (or a 5'11 individual trying to dunk a basketball) then these all probably feel like nails in your coffin. If you're doing a job you've been doing for say, 8 or nine years that you thought you'd be doing for one or two then the approach of this day starts to sound like a fire alarm and you may or may not drink heavily, and may or may not start talking about moving to Guatemala or going back to school to become like, a geologist or something. You may act out by actually having your birthday at putt putt. People come out of ironic detachment but end up enjoying themselves until they're in line for the go carts and the babysitter calls to say that the toddler is chasing the dog with a butcher knife. You end the night laying out radical plans like so many new outfits that you're going to wear in the year ahead and whether you're planning on getting that promotion or digging that well in Uganda, you quietly say to yourself, "This year is going to be my year." Some year's you're right, some you're wrong. At some point you may stop saying this to yourself.

Only then do you get old.

Novel - CH14
Dunking - 29
French - Bon anniversaire

Thursday, December 13, 2007

All Hail Readiness

Sorry it's been a while kids. I know I've been busy, but it's hard to remember what I've actually done. That happens a lot. You two, however, continue to impress. The other night your mom and I just sat around feeling her belly until one or the other of you kicked us in the hand. Then one of us would look and the other and very excitedly say, "Did you feel that?" and the other would very excitedly answer, "I totally felt that!" We're very simple people. We also enjoy watching our microwave make popcorn.

My new favorite question is, "So, are you ready yet?" Wherever I go people seem to feel obligated to ask me that the way you'll discover grandparents feel obligated to ask eight year olds, "How's school?" I'm not really sure how they expect me to answer, but lately I say, "well, it's kind of like being on Death Row. Are you ever really ready?" That usually prevents any follow up questions, but it doesn't mean it's not true. In either case it's something you know is going to happen, you know when it's going to happen, and you know that nothing is going to be the same when it does. One day you're just one thing, and then another day, you're not. Of course, inmates can get a call from the governor. I'm kind of on my own.

I know about the books and the classes and the everything else, but I haven't seen anything titled Sleep Deprivation: It's Not That Bad, or Poop Is Awesome: You've Just Been Smelling It Wrong, so I'm skeptical about just how prepared they can make you. I think the hard parts are probably just hard. Obviously people have been pulling this off for quite some time, and in so far as I'm a member of my species, yes, I'm totally ready. But being bipedal and largely hairless looks like it might make up the majority of my preparation, so you should know what you;re getting into. Looking at it what way I can tell the next person who asks me that I was, in fact, born ready.

Actually, I was thinking maybe we could all strike some sort of deal to make this whole readiness question moot. Personally, I think things are awesome the way they are. We see you once a week, we take you everywhere, yet you sleep when we sleep, eat when we eat, and I haven't had to figure out where Nickelodeon and the Disney channel are. It's like you're away at a top notch boarding school, only the tuition is free and no one calls us to complain when you won't stop kicking each other. I think this might be our golden era as a family. Let's not just rush through it. I know you had your hearts set on this spring, but what if you take a year, possibly two, relax, get some perspective, and then maybe think about coming out. Backpacking around Europe is played, the womb is the next place to spend time finding yourself.

Of course we both know you're going to ignore my advice, and I'm sure that will just be the first of many, many times. So rest assured that I may not know how to hold a bottle, or change a diaper, or have any idea who the hell Miley is, but between you and me, I'm confident that when someone finally puts you in my arms I will be ready.

Just not a minute before.

Novel - Ch14
Dunking - 29
French - Je ne suis pas prepare.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

How Do Mormons Do It?

I'm not sure when your mother and I will ever have sex again. We've been meaning to, but we've also been meaning to unpack a closet full of boxes from when we moved in a year and a half ago. You'll learn that putting something on a to-do list is usually a sign that it's not going to get done.

At first your mom was sick all the time, which wasn't particularly romantic. Then came the sonograms. Once I looked through that little bulge and saw the two of you wrestling on the other side, it became impossible to forget you were in there. You may have noticed how often I grab and shake you, address questions to you when it feels like your mother isn't listening, or read your nascent minds and relay your thoughts to your mother, as in, "Ripley and Nixon really want you to get me some ice cream," or "Ripley and Nixon said they're never coming out if you don't stop watching The Young and The Restless". The point it, you're always there, and the degree to which you're always there becomes more evident everyday. Your mom strikes a Hitchcock pose (hopelessly before your time) so often in order to show you off that I'm thinking of getting her the theme music.

I've read where some men are more sexually aroused by their wives the more pregnant they get. All I can say is that there's something wrong with them or me, and usually in these instances it's safe to point the finger at me. I'm completely aware that you aren't harmed, can't feel, and won't remember any sexual activity, but I'm aware of all the same things when it comes to our cats, and I still have to throw them out of the room. It's not that I find your mother unattractive. To the contrary, she's more beautiful than I can remember her. It's just that it's the kind of beautiful that makes me want to squeeze her into a tiny ball and put her in my pocket. It's the kind of beautiful that feels like hugging a panda bear. Or three (counting you two) panda bears. Maybe these other men are also sexually attracted to panda bears and I'm just not in the loop.

Now that we're pregnant I find that we talk about sex the way people having sex talk about getting pregnant. Do you want to try that? Would this work? When's a good time for you? What does the book say? What does Oprah say? They're the kind of dialogs that could turn Penthouse Forum readers into monks. Seduction rarely begins with the words, "Well, I Googled this and..."

But it's only for a few more months right? I mean, those guys in the space station, they're up there for like, years. Surely, between insomnia, diaper changing, and feeding there will be ample time for us to return to the wild and crazy people capable of making you in the first place. I think this little piece of conversation illustrates how that's going to go.

Me: How long do you breastfeed?
Your mom: Months. Years.
Me: And people have sex while they're breastfeeding?
Your mom: Yes.
Me: Really?

I think sooner rather than later is our only hope. I'm going to go see if I can find one of those Jewish wedding sheets that just have a small opening in them. Out of sight, out of mind, right? Maybe that's originally Hebrew. I'll Google it.

Novel - Ch13
Dunking - 28.5
French - Bebe, je t'aime.

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