Friday, April 21, 2006

 

In Which Spring Fever Makes Me Delirious...


I don't know what it is about spring, but it's the time of year when I tend to notice how much the kids have grown. And while part of me feels the pride and self-satisfaction that can only come from managing to keep two little people alive for several years (despite the fact that I couldn't keep so much as a cactus alive when I was growing up), the rest of me feels just a wee bit queasy.

Part of it is the renewal of things we haven't done in a year. Thomas just started Little League and we had to buy him a whole new uniform--right down to new cleats--because none of the old stuff fit him. Watching him hit the field this past week, I also saw what a tall drink of water he's become. He towers a head--sometimes a head and a half--above kids his age, the same kids he played with last year. And man, has he come a long way from the baseball-shy kid of last year. Where once I could barely get him to play catch, this year he's begging me to hit him pop flies and tricky bouncing grounders. In his first at-bat of the season, he clobbered the ball, the only kid of the game to loft one into the outfield. I was never very good at team sports myself, so it's been great to watch him get along in this team and do well.

Part of it is also just timing. This Sunday is marks my 12th year of married life with Her Lovely Self, which is just staggering. Amazing and wonderful, but staggering, too. The 12th anniversary is supposed to be one where you give your spouse linens and silk or colored gems and pearls. I'm getting her, um, lawn service. Sounds like an awful gift, but hey, you should see our lawn. And she's so busy with her gardening efforts, she just doesn't have time to seed and fertilize the lawn. So I signed us up and in order to pay for it, I will be ebaying a few choice items from the incredible Basement of CRAP, which will also please her, because she thinks I have way too much stuff, and didn't get rid of nearly enough of it in last year's giveaway.

And it's the thought that counts, right? HLS grew up in a well-heeled, upper middle class suburban neighborhood where everyone treated their lawn like it was, well, like it was big green colored gem. In New Hampshire, we didn't have a lawn, we had a yard (or "yahd," if you prefer). Of course we mowed it, but we didn't give a shit about dandelions or bare spots or whether or not we needed fescue or crab grass or whatever. In short, HLS knows I couldn't care less about the appearance of our lawn. So I figure getting lawn service would show her that I care about it because she cares about it. Either that, or it will look like I'm the biggest lazy-ass on the planet because I can't bestir myself to seed and fertilize the thing on my own.

But I guess the biggest thing this spring is the realization that the Brownie will turn FIVE YEARS OLD on April 30. I'll have nicer things to say when that weekend rolls around. But for right now, I'm having trouble finding anything good to focus on. It's a big deal when your baby completes her first lustrum. For one thing, she really won't be a baby anymore. This week that fact was brought home rather sharply and bitterly when the Brownie's preschool class had a field trip over to Thomas' school to see the kindergarten room and meet their teachers for next year. It was an optional thing, and so at dinner the night before, when the Brownie soberly informed me that she had thought about it and decided not to go, I was secretly elated. Still, I asked her why, and when I did, she got teary and said she would be scared to go.

And here we come to a great secret about my daughter. As much a bossy big mouth as she is at home, she is that much quieter and withdrawn at school. She's a bit like Jackie, the girl my son saved from a bully a few weeks back: When the Brownie talks in school, it's barely above a whisper, and even then it's only to talk to the teacher. Consequently, she hasn't made a ton of friends, and some of her classmates actually thought she was mute. It stunned me to learn this, but Her Lovely Self wasn't one bit surprised. My bride, it seems, was exactly the same way and didn't overgrow her quiet streak until she studied gymnastics and became a cheerleader in high school.

Now lest you think I am a completely self-centered and awful Dad, I did try to talk the Brownie through her fears, reminding her that she knew the school like the back of her hand already, having been there so many times to get Thomas. "So really, you already know where the kindergarten room is, so there's nothing to be nervous about there, right?"

At this, the Brownie gave me The Look. "D-a-a-a-a-d," she said, adopting a slightly exasperated tone. "I DO know where the room is already. So since I know, why do I have to go?"

Hmm, good point, dumb-ass, I thought.

"Well," I said. "You'll get to meet the teacher. And all your other friends from school are going. Wouldn't you hate to miss out?"

The Brownie didn't even pause. "Um, actually, no. So I'm made up not to go."

Well, crap. Bad enough that Thomas is an anxious kid, but now it seemed the Brownie was too. And I honestly expected her to want to go. I mean, this is a kid who generally is afraid of nothing. When it's bedtime, Thomas is so scared of going up to his room in the quasi-dark that he begs his sister to go up first and turn on the lights. Movies that Thomas won't watch because they contain scary scenes--Luath getting quilled by a porcupine in The Incredible Journey; Tarzan fighting the leopard that killed his family; the part where Charlotte dies and all but two of her babies leave Wilbur--are among the Brownie's favorite videos. And now, here she was, getting cold feet about a mere field trip. What was it going to be like in September, when she had to start riding the bus and going to kindergarten every day?

As it turned out, I didn't have long to fret about this because the next morning, when I came down after my shower and saw the Brownie eating her breakfast, she beamed at me and said, "Daddy. I thunk about it and I decided to go on the trip. And if I get scared, I will just think about something else."

I was so proud, I almost danced a little jig. I certainly made a fuss, telling her how proud I was, what a big girl she was to face her fears, especially in light of the fact that I hadn't even tried very much to cajole her into going. It was just one of those perfect moments for a parent when you decide that, gee, you just might have done something right.

Then the Brownie continued talking and said, "Andy is going to kindergarten too. I'm going to ride with him and his mother."

And my heart dropped straight out of my chest and exited out of my body and down one pant-leg.

"Andy? Andy from down the street?" I asked weakly.

The Brownie beamed and nodded.

Oh fuck.

Andy is 5 and the son of one of our neighbors. For the first part of our four years here, if he came over at all, it was to play with Thomas, who he absolutely looks up to like the big brother he doesn't have. But then last summer, that all changed.

I remember the moment with crystal clarity. I was sitting inside, putting on my tennis shoes and getting ready to leash Blaze up to take him outside. The kids were already out, kicking a ball around in the front yard (excuse me, front lawn) when I looked out a window and saw Andy running up his side of the street and calling the Brownie's name. Andy was holding something in his hand as he yelled. When he crossed over, it appeared to be a rapidly melting Popsicle, the kind with two sticks in it, so you can break it apart. And that's what Andy did, broke it in half and handed one portion to the Brownie.

The Brownie loves all sweets. And she thanked Andy nicely and gave him a hug. A hug! Blaze and I stared daggers at the kid and I muttered, "Okay, fine. You made your delivery. Now keep moving, you sticky little Romeo."

But he didn't. And now when he comes over, it's to see the Brownie, and to play with just her. Now, to top it off, he was going to the same kindergarten.

"Andy, huh?" I said in an off-handed voice. "Well, that's nice..."

The Brownie nodded. "He said if I get scared then he'll hold my hand."

I could feel my veins pulsing in my head. So my pep talk had been totally ineffectual the night before, but today, as soon as her SuperPop suitor announced he was going, she was ready to go too. Boy, did I feel low.

And of course the Brownie went and rode with Andy and his mom and DID (God, please don't let my head explode) hold his hand as they walked to the kindergarten classroom. By the time I got home for dinner that night, her tone had completely changed. She'd gone from scared and nervous to this bubbly young lady who wanted to tell me all about Andy and her experience at school, and how much she liked her new teacher--oh, and Andy. And how she sat at her table--with Andy--and he kicked her foot with his foot and made faces at her.

"…he did one where he stuck his tongue out and pulled his nose up and did a piggy face. It was even funnier than the Monkey Face!" she said, giggling. And I died. The Monkey Face is MY face. My best face.

"Well..." I started awkwardly. "I'm glad you had a good time."

Lights went on in the Brownie's eyes as she nodded and continued speaking in exclamations and italics. "It was great. Andy's the best! He's so funny! And he always shares his candies with me! He had a whole box of Nerds with him on the ride and he gave me half!" I couldn't help but notice she ended up not really saying much at all about the actual school visit.

Worse still, what she had just told me was a terrible portent of worse things to come. I mean, nothing says love like a box of Nerds. To think I had ever chided Her Lovely Self for getting bent out of shape whenever Alyssa or Caitlin--to name two girls who think Thomas is just the coolest--sent lovey-dovey notes to my son. But that was different. Thomas is older. And--

Okay, fine! I'll admit it: Thomas is a boy. And having been a boy myself, I get it. Okay?!?

But...my little Brownie girl. I never had a girl in the house while we were growing up. She's my only daughter. I never really admitted here before what a sexist pig I apparently am for having a double standard. But I just couldn't bear the thought of this little crush thing that was going on. At FIVE YEARS OLD! What was I going to do in 10 years, when boys really started sniffing around? Blaze would be old and of not much help by then. What would happen when potential suitors came crawling out from under their rocks? I just know myself and odds are I will overreact, and when I do, it will not be in the most congenial of manners. No, not even to the Nice Guys. In fact, ESPECIALLY not to the Nice Guys. Because, see, I was a Nice Guy when I was a teen, and I know what I was thinking about whenever I was going out with a girl.

It's awful to say, but I predict I'll be the worst kind of Dad when the Brownie hits teen age. I'll be the kind of Dad who sits in the living room, cleaning his chainsaw with a bloody rag when the next boyfriend shows up. While the Brownie goes to get her jacket or apply a fresh coat of makeup or something, I can totally see myself taking the would-be Lothario aside and saying the most intimidating things.

"Oh, so you want to date my Brownie, huh? Well, sure, go on! You kids have a great time. Oh, but before you go, see that little box over there on the counter? Yeah, just go ahead and leave your penis there, would you? It'll be fine there, safe and sound, til you bring back my daughter--by no later than 11, incidentally. Yeah, that's right, just pop it in that box there, and oh! You dropped it. Blaze! BLAZE, don't eat-- Aw, that's a shame. Well, I wouldn't worry. You were never going to get a chance to use it around my daughter anyway. Here, there's some Oscar Mayer wieners in the fridge. Help yourself to one."

Ugh. The room was spinning. I had to sit down. Except I was already sitting down.

"Are you okay?" Her Lovely self asked, with no small amount of mirth in her tone. I didn't answer. She knew damn well I wasn't okay. The Brownie finished her dinner and got up from the table to wash her hands. And she was still talking about Andy.

"So I guess you like this boy?" I asked. "I guess he's cute and stuff?"

"He IS cute," the Brownie agreed. She went to wash her hands.

I couldn't stop myself. "Is he as cute as me?" I called to her, as she came out of the bathroom, drying her hands.

At this, the Brownie just giggled. "D-a-a-a-a-d," she said in that exasperated tone again. "YOU'RE not cute!" she continued, laughing like this was the funniest joke in ages.

Then, instead of sitting back in her seat at the table, she came over and wrapped her still-damp hands around my neck. And she hissed in my ear. "Boys are cute. But Daddies are handsome." Then she gave me a juicy smack on the cheek and went back to her chair.

Right.

So.

Everything's okay.

For now.

But Blaze and I are still keeping a watch for that sticky little Romeo.

And I've bought a box that I think will come in handy in about 10 to 12 years...

Yours,
From Somewhere on the Masthead


Comments:
The Wrench and I are about seven years ahead of you.

It just gets worse...

Now we are buying magazines like "Tiger Beat", and putting posters all over the walls of her room, and she needs *privacy* while she's on the phone talking about Daniel Radcliffe. (Who no doubt was a sticky fingered little Romeo himself once)

At least you know that The Brownie won't be sitting alone next year on the first day of Kindergarden... Small comfort, I know...

T. :)
 
Mine is 7 and comes home with notes from little romeos saying do you like me circle yes or no. Telling her father you might control my life but you can't control who my heart loves. So ya it onle gets better. lol So um ya good luck. :)
 
I have a seven year old and five year old as well, but both boys. Just remember, things could be different. Your five year old, (whose father let him dress up as a plush baby blue care bear for Halloween) could be telling you how much he plays with & shares candy with his "boyfriend Brent". I almost had a heart attack, and then his big brother said "Not your BOYfriend- he's your BEST friend." Ri-ri concurred, but also countered with "But he's a BOY and he's my FRIEND, so there!" Being an actress, I have always been around gay men, and I love them. I just wasn't prepared for my boys to have to make any decision like that just yet. Whew! Be happy about Andy.
 
Oh poor Daddy. I still fondly remember my 2nd grade boyfriend, who gave me a candy bar, his picture, and a dime, all at once!
 
Thimbelle is right. It just gets worse. Let's hope HLS and the Brownie get along, because you'll be left out of the loop as soon as she hits 13.

Ignatz
 
Time to start planning your Purity Ball, man.

You are the man of the house and the High priest of your family, after all, and so it is your responsibility to be sure that your daughter is not ruined and made unmarriagable.

So what if she's only five? It's never too late to pledge your virginity to Jesus. And Daddy, of course.

Look at the pictures. They are happy. They are pure. They are blessed by God. Don't you want to be like them?
 
(I am SO going to Hell.)
 
Awhile back when I read the post you wrote about how HLS was disturbed by Alyssa (I think it was?) and her affection towards Thomas and how proud YOU were...well, I knew it'd come full circle with your daughter. I bet HLS isn't bothered by Andy like she was by Alyssa, but it sure as heck bothers you. However, I didn't predict it would come around so soon. And now I know why my father was so bothered by all the guys I brought home whom I insisted were "perfectly nice."
I'm sorry to say, but if you are this bothered by crushes she has at five, you will be checking yourself into a very special facility by the time she's 16! Relax, she will have many puppy loves, but none will ever be able to take daddy's special place in her heart.
 
Hey that abstinence Web site has a section called "members" in their menu. Maybe you buy one of those penis containment boxes there. ;-)

Sorry to laugh at your woes, man, but the idea of you and crotchety old Blaze snapping at the heels of all those Romeos is TOO funny. Keep that chain saw sharp!
 
My Dad and 2 of his Navy buddies surrounding my first date and asked him if his intentions were honorable towards his daughter. I thought he was going to die of fright.
 
"I'll be the kind of Dad who sits in the living room, cleaning his chainsaw with a bloody rag "

Classic. I pity the poor sap who wants to take her to prom. THIS is why I don't want girls...
 
Oh MM, we have a daughter as our second child, and she's cute as a button (only 9 months now). I KNOW the hubby is going to have a tough time when boys start to notice her. :)

For what it's worth, one of my coworkers is married to his "kindergarden" girlfriend. So, maybe Andy is here to stay. :)

Does that help or hurt?
 
you know what? The MAIN thing I wanted to post about was the future ebay auctions you're planning. I cannot believe that the Brownie romanced took me off track.

I sooooo want to own a piece of MM memorabilia. Sign me up! Let us know when you've started the auctions.
 
I remember when my sisters were being courted and the insane, raving wreck that my mother was for those years.

Why?

Because sexism, while unfair is true.

Guys are untrustworthy little pieces of refuse because of what they have that goes in the box.

p.s. - yeah, I caught that last little double entendre. i couldn't bring myself to take it out though.
 
I still remember my Dad laying down the law: None of his girls were to date any boy with long hair or an earring.

The first boy to ring the doorbell with his Mom's roses clutched in his sweaty palm had long hair, an earring, AND combat boots. So with that, all the rules went out the window.

Hate to break it to you, but this is just the beginning of your torment. For in your future there will be first dates, fumbling hands, prom pictures, boyfriends who stick around, and finally, a very long walk down an aisle. But you wouldn't trade any of it--even the heartache.
 
My five year old also starts kindergarten this fall. Sadly (for her), Joshy Woshy, her daycare dreamboat will not be going with her. At five, she's also already telling me that she's kissing him at school! I like Josh well enough, but was prepared to be a little upset about him kissing my baby at this age. Until she shared the rest of the story: she'd chased him around the playground to kiss him. I just keep reminding myself that puppy love is normal, and I crushed on many a cute boy in school. I'm struggling with this part though: theoretically, I want my girls to grow up with a healthy sexuality, respect for their bodies and themselves, yadda yadda yadda... I just don't want them to do that until I say it's OK...
 
"Boys are cute. But Daddies are handsome." Then she gave me a juicy smack on the cheek.

She so has your number MM. You can hear the tiny wheels turning, this will chill him out for a while. Just keep in mind, this too will pass.
 
I love stories about the Brownie. It's alright.. she can take care of herself. My first boyfriend, in nursery school, kissed my hand and saved me a place next to him at naptime. One day, he bit me and it was all over between us.

Sweet girl, that Brownie.
 
Little people scare me.

I want one.

Or three.

But they scare me.
 
A chainsaw isn't that bad. My step-grandfather had a lamb castrator that he would put on the table when the boys (dating or just friends) would come over. I loved it. If the guy could handle it, then I knew they were good guys (and they usually were).
 
My sincere sympathies man. As a father and former boy myself, I'm in total agreement: daughters and boys don't mix.

Flip was never much for the boys when she was younger but she's making up for it now. TJ and I have taken to carrying our cellphones around in the house now that the house phone has grown into the side of her head. And then there was the $300 for text messages (they're five cents a piece, which equals one crapload of text messages) that Flip doesn't want me to tell anyone about.

Oops. Did I say that out loud?

And, uh RachieB, aka Other Child o' Mine? I'm rather hurt that you forgot my best line: "I'll be back to pick the two of you up after I get out of my court ordered anger management class. My parole officer told me if I miss another one I'm going straight back to the can. You kids have fun!"
 
I am so glad I had a son!

I cannot wait to hear about the first time the Brownie goes out in a belly shirt & mini skirt.

Ever hear of a little thing called "The Mothers Curse"?
 
Don't worry MM. As a big brother with a sister myself, I know that the Brownie will be alright. If Thomas looks out for his friends as well as you have told us, you have little to worry about from the boys the Brownie hangs out with when she is a little older.
 
Congratulations to you & Her Lovely Self on your 12th anniversary! It's so wonderful to know that marriage can get better instead of worse ;)
 
this is so father of the bride ... :P ... and she is not even in the age yet ... :D

Good luck. I feel for you man. I do.
 
I couldn't help but smile through this. You sound just like my Dh. He is proud of the boy when he talks about girls, but heaven forbid our almost 4-year-old should mention a boy. He was ready to pull her out of her preschool when we were told that she had the boys in her class trained to follow her around like puppy dogs.

He's got our son in Karate and talks about getting his gun permit and building a dungeon. The karate and gun are for the would be suitors, the dungeon... for our daughter.
 
As the mother of two teenage daughters....I am living your worst nightmare. Be afraid. Be VERY afraid. The 'box' is a wonderful idea....
 
Be careful about being TOO over-protective, there, MM. My father, who thought my sisters started dating "too early" (in high school) tried everything he could to break up my oldest sister with her boyfriend...tried to prevent her from going to the same college he went to, etc. He ended up becoming a doctor an d they've been married, happily, for over 25 years now.
 
What a sweetie, that Brownie. I was raised by my father, just he and I. We have a great friendship now, but the teen years when boys were "sniffing" around were difficult. He answered the door once with a shovel and told my date that he had a shotgun and shovel, and wasn't afraid to use them.

But, always remember that you're the first boy in her life. You are the first man to which she'll measure all others.
 
lol. poor mm.

my dad was cleaning his shotgun when my first date showed up at the door. poor boy didn't talk to me again for several years.

from the sound of things, the brownie will handle you just fine. ;-)
 
I was once a teenage girl myself, and I can honestly say that we think the same as you....


....is my deodorant working?

Keep in mind that you may not be able to trust all the young men out there, but you can still trust your daughter.
 
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