Sunday, October 28, 2012

"Oh Boy"

School has been good for us.  In the begining, it wasn't.  Before the first day, I told Juliet that Melissa and I were going to take her to school and leave her there.  That her teachers would take care of her. That other kids might cry.  I told her that she should make the kids who cried feel better by giving them hugs.

Jules smiled and repeated the instructions the way she repeats everything now.  Enunciating all of the syllables and understanding between some and most of them.  You never really know, unless she wants you to know. 

When we dropped Juliet off at school, she clung to our legs as we tried to leave.  She watched us walk out the door.  When we spied on her from the outside window, she was still watching the door, from the center of the room.  Right where we had left her. 

The teacher had told us that Juliet had stayed in that spot, the first day of school.  And the second, and third.  Not a word, not a tear.  In pig tails and purple Sauconies.  The image made us want to cry even though she never did.

When I'd ask her about school, about who her friends were or whether she rode bikes or colored, she'd 'hmph' and raise her eyebrows and turn her back to me.  Other parents have told me that it's really hard to leave a crying kid at school.  It's also hard to leave a kid who isn't crying, but only because you told her not to.

Jules' birthday was the turning point.  At school, one parent sits in on every class.  Our first "parent of the day" assignment was on Juliet's second birthday.  So, we both sat in.  We made it our mission to show Juliet that it was okay to play with other kids.  That it was fun.  That school is the kind of place where Mommy and Daddy bring vanilla cupcakes with pink frosting on your birthday.

All of a sudden, Juliet started slipping us little hints about school.

"Darien cried," she said.  "I gave him hugs."

"Good girl," I said.  "Who are your friends at school?"

"Darien," she said.

"Who is this Darien, Jules?"

"Darien went poopy on the potty," she said.  "I didn't look.  It's icky."   

"Jules, do you like Darien?"

Juliet smiled, a little embarassed, a little guilty.  She wanted me to know she was feeling those things.  But she also wanted me to know that she liked Darien.  Like like like.

Like, oh boy.

I'm not worried though.  At least not in the stereotypical dad worried about daughter with boys kind of way.  Juliet is smart.  She's confident.  I'm not worried that she's going to try to act how she thinks he wants her to act, or dress the way she thinks he wants her to dress.  I'm not worried about Juliet liking boys.  I'm only worried that one might not like her back.

Because that would feel like leaving her at school the first time.  That would be something I couldn't make all better, and that sort of thing worries me.  More and more.

Life's tough Jules.  Get a helmet.  A kitty helmet.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

"Two Much"

She's not showing off.  Juliet isn't like that (though I might be).  She's bitter about the NHL lockout and wanted to give her Flyers some motivation to be reasonable.  She loves her Flyers.  Especially her Flyers shirt.  But the Eagles are the only game in town right now, and a girl has got to be entertained.

Especially this girl.

When Juliet's not watching football, she likes Yo Gabba Gabba and the Mickey Mouse Club.  When she's not watching any of those things, she's asking to watch them.  And asking.  And asking.

We talked a big game about not letting Juliet watch TV.  Then, we needed to shower.  Then, we got tired of being the entertainment.  Or just tired.  I'm not even sure I know the difference between tired and not tired anymore, but I do know the difference between the TV being on and not.

Juliet likes to draw too.  That's a good activity because it doesn't require movement.  We lay on the floor and color with crayons.  A couple of weeks ago, Juliet drew a circle, which she called a monkey.  Then, she put eyes on it.  And ears.  She noticed that it was starting to look like a monkey, and that I was excited.  So, she quickly scribbled all over it, got up and ran away.

Then we were moving again.

I turned on the TV.


But then it's bed time.

"Juliet, say goodnight to Yo Gabba."


"It's time for bed."

"I do not want to go to bed."

"It's late, Juliet," I say.  "And I'm tired - I think."

"I want to watch just a little bit."

"How much is a little bit?" I ask.

Juliet smiles.  She's already bought an extra minute, and probably five because I'm a sucker.  And she hasn't even asked for three books instead of two yet.  Or for a little bit of water.  And ice.  That she wants to put in "all by herself."

As we rock in the dark, Juliet leans back away from me, smiling.  She holds her hands up to my cheeks, mushes them.

"I am a member of the chubby wubby club," she says.  "Smile."

And I do.  Because she said so.  That's pretty much how it goes.

Except for sometimes. 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

"Ready or Not"

We dropped Juliet off at pre-school for the first time today.  Playschool, actually.  She was so excited.  When I got home from work, I asked Juliet what had happened at school.

"Mommy and daddy ran away," she said.

We didn't run away.  Juliet's teacher had told us at the parent meeting that we could only stay for fifteen minutes.  If you stay longer than fifteen minutes, your child will never be able to separate from you.  Ever.  So, we stayed for fifteen minutes. 

We played with a racetrack, a kitchen and a barn.  We played with each other.  We did not play with anyone else.  Juliet was well prepared for what was about to happen next.  We had told her a hundred times and read her books about it.  We had even suggested that when other kids cry, she should give them hugs.  On the way to school, she calmly explained to us that we would drop her off, that daddy would go to work, that mommy would get coffee, that she would hug the other kids who cried and that mommy would pick her up and take her home.

She was fine with it.  Excited about it.  Until is was about to happen.

Juliet didn't cry.  She answered yes when we asked if we could leave. Walking out the door, I told myself not to look back and did anyway.  I noticed Juliet about to look at me, and, well, I ran away.  Then, I think, she cried.  Or maybe she didn't.  Maybe she gave out hugs and words of encouragement.  I don't know.  I left Juliet at school, and I went to work.  And we were all so grown up.  Ready or not.




Monday, August 27, 2012

"Three Minnies"

Melissa and I were driving home from the Lodge at Woodloch.  We had been away from Juliet for four days, the longest time in two years and also forever.  We couldn't stand to be away another minute.  I drove fast.  We got lost.

We drove along winding mountain roads through forgotten mountain towns that looked somehow familiar.  We couldn't make sense of our printed directions, the intermittent street signs or our inability to understand either. 

Then, we passed a landmark.  Not a place we had passed on the way to the Lodge, but a place that I had passed before, I could have sworn.  Costa's Amusement Park.  Mini golf.  Go carts.  A happy place.  I had been there.  I did not know when.  Or how.

Until I saw the sign for Lake Owego Camp, the all boys overnight camp where I had gone when I was ten.  Ten seconds later, we passed Camp Timber Tops, the girls camp that had always seemed five mission impossibles away, but was suprisingly about a hundred yards down the road.  A minute after that, ee sped by Alice's Wonderland, the convenience store where you got to go if you had the cleanest cabin ten times in a row.  Driving past these memories in utterly the wrong direction made me happy.  I asked Melissa why.

"It reminds you of simpler times."

She was half joking.

"It's wild how easy it is to make a kid happy," I said.

"I miss Juliet," Melissa said.  "I think we should turn around."

"She gets happy for one M&M."

"So happy she pees."

"When's the last time you got so happy you peed?"

A single M&M is so exciting to Juliet that she will force herself to pee, on the potty, even if she doesn't have to.  For one M&M, she'll squeeze a drop, and be the happiest munchkin you ever saw when she gets her reward.  She won't ask for another.

The one was enough.

In M&Ms.

It takes three Minnies, apparantly.

The three Minnies were with Juliet when we got home, a present from her Bubby.  We wondered whether they came in a set, and figured probably not.  Juliet invited the three Minnies into her crib, with her two Monkeys, Monkey Pillow, Brown Kitty (who is orange), White Kitty (who is white), Purple Kitty (who is arguably purple), New Monkey, Elmo, Little Elmo, and, well, you get it.  One M&M.  Two Monkeys.  Three Minnies. 

Whatever it takes. 

I want her to be happy.  It makes me happy, happier than camp.  So happy, I could pee.  And that's pretty happy.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

"I'm a Woman"

It's been a while.  I know.  Three months.  A lot happened.  Melissa is pregnant again.  Which is good, because Juliet grew up.  She's a woman.

It didn't happen gradually.

Which is weird, because I feel, well, lapped?

She still has moments where she can't help but act like a child.

But those moments are becoming few and farther in between.  I have those moments about as frequently as Juliet does.

And Juliet finds them, well, hilarious.

She's laughing on the inside.  On the outside, she's mocking me.  Juliet thinks it's funny that she's grown up in less than two years, and that I am still acting like a two year old after...I can't even remember how long it's been.  I have double digit white hairs, though.

I remember when I was little, and I wanted to be big.  And being big meant being old.  Which meant being cool.  Now I want to be little.  Being big involves too much time in the office.  It's not as cool as I had thought.  Spending the day with La La, blowing bubbles and getting an M&M every time I pee on the potty (seven times, so far) sound like more fun.  But I guess the grass is always - whiter?

I try to tell Juliet not to hurry.  I tell her to eat only french fries for dinner and to color on the floor.  And she still does those things, but those things don't seem to make her seem any more like a baby.  Growing up is funny.  People decide to grow up - it doesn't just happen.  And Juliet has made her decision.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

"Girls, Girls, Girls"

Before Juliet was born, I promised her that I wouldn't dress her in pink, paint her nails or call her princess.  Pink is her favorite color.  Last night, Melissa painted her nails blue.  Then pink.  I don't call her princess, but a rose by any other name...

She also loves shopping.  Particularly for shoes.  That, however, isn't what you think.  This is not a cliche female shoes obsession.  At least not completely.  Juliet's infatuation runs far deeper.  It isn't just about silver glitter covered Mary Janes, purple Sauconies or the beloved pink booties (which I was forced to hide permanently).

Juliet is also obsessed with socks.  It started with Alex's socks.  Alex, of course, is Juliet's stuffed monkey.

I don't know who bought Alex.  He appeared one day, wearing overalls, underwear, shoes and socks.  It was all removable.  It was too early.  Juliet would try to unbutton the overalls, and, when she couldn't do it, she cried.  Same with the shoes.  And the socks.

When Juliet's fingers started working, she ripped off Alex's shoes, tossed them aside and found her first true love.  Torquise and white striped sweat socks, slightly too small for her feet.  She demanded to wear them every night for a month.  Which is gross.  Melissa bought imposter "Alex's socks" from the Gap.  Juliet could tell the difference, but forgave it because of the effort.

Then, Juliet realized that it was not just Alex's socks that she loved, but all socks.  Every time Juliet has her diaper changed, she begs, "new socks?"  At bed time, we bribe Juliet to put on her pajamas by promising to let her change her socks.  Yesterday, she looked down at her Elmo socks, and asked, "Buy Cookie Monster socks?"

But it runs even deeper than that.  On the rarest of occassions, when Juliet wears no socks at all, she carefully inspects the area between each toe.

"Toe jam?" I ask.

"Toe jam," she says.

And then she hands me some.  My princess's pea is the ook between her toes.

Mine is watching Roy Halladay give up 8 earned runs.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

"Role Reversal"

It's bed time. I am sitting in the rocking chair in Juliet's room. Juliet is sitting in her little chair across the room.
"Daddy, I want to stay up until I feel like going to bed. That may be never. It also may be soon. I won't know until I am actually asleep. Can I stay up?"
"Will you at least get me cookies."
"Fine," Juliet says. "At the very least, give me your phone so I can play with it until I get frustrated and cry."
"Why don't you do everything I tell you to?" Juliet asks. "Mommy does everything I tell her to. That's why I love her more."
"Mama?" I ask.
"Yes," Juliet says. "And if you insist on putting me to bed right now, and I hope you'll reconsider, you have to sing to me like Mommy does. You have to sing 'You are My Sunshine' over and over until I tell you to stop. Or until I cry. That means stop."
"Yes, Daddy. Sing."
"Socks," I say, pointing to Juliet's socks.
"Yes, these are my socks. By the way, this chocolate milk you made me sucks. I only have you make it because I don't want you thinking that you won on the milk issue."
"Bye bye," I say.
I run out of her room and slam the door. I wait, open the door and there is Juliet. Reading "Don't Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late." She looks up.
"Can I have a glass of water?" she asks.
"Can we watch TV?"
"Can you at least take the swimmie diaper off your head? It is not a hat."
"Daddy, you don't get it at all."
And then, when Juliet is at her most frustrated point, I purse my lips and lean towards her. She can't help but smile. It's got nothing to do with me, but she knows I think it does. The truth is that she just pooped. She didn't have to do, but it bought her five more minutes.
What's five minutes in the grand scheme of things?