Setting: This morning, in the car. A CD of random iTunes purchases is playing.
Penny: Daddy? Is this song still about Alex?
Me: Well, the last one was sort of a silly joke about Alex. This one is sort of about you.
Penny: Why is this song about me?
Me: Well, because it’s about a daddy and how much he loves his daughter.
Penny ::small pause::
Penny: Daddy, when can I get a diamond?
“I’m not talking to you right now. I’m talking to the donkey, I’m not talking to you right now. You’re not my best friend.”
Just to note for posterity, on Monday Penny did her first repeated "Why?" conversation.
Precisely what I’ve been looking forward to. Although today, on the way home, when we started down the road of why summer and why hot, I ended up talking for a while about hydrogen atoms fusing into helium, and the energy from the reaction giving off light and heat, and by the time I was done, either Penny had gotten bored and stopped listening to me, or had lost the train of the conversation. I doubt that tactic will work for much longer.
“Yes, candy is yummy.”
“Yes, breakfast is yummy.”
“No, sorry, that does not mean you can have candy for breakfast.”
The upstairs guest computer, now that it’s a happy, useful, Mac Mini instead of an old, pokey PC, primarily gets used for two things.
1) Burning CDs of stuff I’ve gotten from the iTunes Music Store.
2) Playing the Beach Boys and the Moose for Penny.
This weekend, I downloaded a basic drawing/painting program more or less at random, got it set up, put Penny on my lap, and got her hand on the mouse.
"Look, sweetie, you can draw on the computer. See the drawing?"
I held the mouse button down (the Apple mice where the whole front of the mouse is a button is sort of nice for Penny, although most of the time she still wants to push down on the back half of the mouse, naturally) and dragged it around the screen.
That didn’t seem to interest her too much, she just gave me a sort of bewildered look. I switched it so the cursor was now a scintillating rainbow color, and dragged that around the screen. Penny’s eyes lit up.
"Well… yeah, sweetie, it’s like painting."
At that, the little scamp leaned forward and smacked her hands on the monitor, trying to get the paint on her hands.
Ever since my mother came to visit, Penny’s been doing this weird thing in the mornings. She’s been… sleeping in.
Oh, it started out innocently enough. 6:30 one morning, 6:40 the next. Yesterday, she slept until almost 7 before Liz and I went in to wake her up. The surprise of two parents looming over her crib, displaying their large teeth and talking to her was apparently not soothing or very welcome, and she spent the whole morning being sort of upset and fussy.
So, this morning, we thought we’d do something… different.
"Just turn the light on in her room," Liz said. "And open the door, and we’ll let her wake up just hearing us walking around and talking."
Sure. Right. Penny attends daycare. She scoffs at light and general walking-around talking noise when sleeping.
"Turn the Baby Vivaldi CD on, see if that’ll rouse her."
I turned it on. Did I mention that the daycare plays music during naptime, to lull the little frenzied youth into sweet, sweet slumber?
"Turn on the Mac," Liz suggested. "The other day, when she heard the startup sound she couldn’t get in there fast enough."
So, I start up the Mac mini. The startup sound (big C major chord, in case you didn’t click on the linky) plays. The daughter sleeps.
I have a little doofy program on the Mac upstairs that I also have on my PowerBook. It’s The Talking Moose. It’s a moose that says random phrases at random intervals… and when the computer starts up and shuts down.
Penny loves the moose. She’ll come up to me and say, "Boose? Boose? P’ease? Boose?" and then I’ll sit her on my lap and have the Moose tell really, really bad jokes until she’s distracted by something else and wanders off.
So, the Moose pops up, and says… I think something like "Why can’t you come back in an hour when I’m more fully rested?" And from Penny’s room, I hear a quiet, "… Boose?"
Penny is now tall enough that when we’re walking around and she’s "holding my hand" (her hand holding onto my index finger), I no longer have to lean over sideways or bend my knees or anything to keep my finger in her reach.
I present to you the life of a parent in microcosm, where a single event illustrates larger themes that run through the whole of being a dad.
Yesterday, when we went to leave the house in the morning, it was in the mid 50s. Liz and I put Penny in her little green hooded sweatshirt, and departed.
I got most of the way to Penny’s daycare, and caught a weather report that said the temperature was going to crash during the day to just above freezing, and there would be rain and snow and… crap from the sky. You know the type.
I left work in the evening to pick up Penny, and sure enough, it was pretty crappy out. As I put my stuff in the back seat of the car, I saw the blanket I keep in the back seat for Penny. I thought, "It’s too cold now to be much comfort… but if I fold it up, put it under my jacket, by the time I get to daycare, get Penny, and get her out to the car, I should have it warmed up enough that it’ll provide some extra warmth for her." So, I folded the blanket up, opened my jacket up (and, oh, yes, that was a nice bracing blast of cold air), and tucked the blanket inside.
I drove to daycare, went in, chased Penny around, got her hooded sweatshirt on her, got her chart, chased her around some more, caught her, and we left daycare.
I got her in the car, buckled her into her seat, brought the blanket out, and tucked it around her.
I’d gotten maybe 50 yards out of the parking lot and she’d pulled the blanket off and was yelling. Possibly about being cold.
That’s being a parent.
Learning to tell when the baby wants to read the book, and when the baby wants to play open and closed halts much fussiness.
My boss used to have a saying he’d whip out at office-wide meetings. "This period of relative inactivity is about to come to an end." This was back in what we now jocularly refer to as ‘The Salad Days.’ Everyone was busy, work was coming in, and the future looked bright and rosy. So, what the statement actually meant was, "If you thought your plates were full before…"
With regard to Penny, this period of relative health appears about to come to an end.
She’s actually been pretty healthy all summer. It’s been quite a while since I’ve been puked on, peed on, or crapped on. Today at daycare, Penny had what we politely refer to as a ‘diaper explosion’, and when we got home, Liz applied her Mom Hand and determined Penny was running a fever, which a little underarm thermometer pegged at 99.8°F.
We had dinner with Liz’s folks last night, and Penny sat next to her uncle, whose wife was not in attendance due to the nagging, wracking cough she’s had for 3 weeks. Today, Penny’s sporting a nice little hacking cough.
It doesn’t help that daycare, has been really overzealous about sending Penny home lately. Last week they sent her home with a rash that turned out to be about ten tiny bumps, widely scattered over her stomach, chest, and upper back. I’m slammed at work with a really short deadline. Liz is always super-busy, and right now has somewhere around 15 documents or that need to be reviewed within the next week-and-a-half or something.