Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Imperfect Specimen

Among Finny’s many fine qualities are his contagious giggle, his ability to notify me when he has pooped by announcing, “Poopie” and then running in the opposite direction, his sweet dance moves, his love of a great, big, long nap, his ability to fill in the end rhyme to every line in the Complete Works of Mother Goose, and his talent for belting out the D, G, K, P, S, V, X, and Z in the alphabet song.

But there is one rather annoying habit he’s picked up that sometimes overshadows all his adorable, loveable cuteness and nearly sends me off a cliff and that is his penchant for dumping various sauces and purees on his head and hurling any food item he no longer has use for off his high chair and all over me, my floor, and the walls.


On Monday, I tried serving him an avocado/cream cheese sushi roll, thinking he would like two of his favorite foods rolled into one. He chucked his plate on the floor. I tried offering him pureed peaches, which he also loves. He dumped the bowl on his head. I tried peas and carrots. He ate some and then started chewing them up and dribbling them all over this lap. Then he began flinging them all over the kitchen. At my wit’s end, I shouted an expletive that I won’t repeat here. But he repeated it. Oops.

Exasperated, I wiped up the floor, wiped up his face and hands and removed him from the high chair so that he could play and I could sit down and eat my own dinner after this 20 minute game of “What else are you going to hand me so that I can just throw it back at you?”

All I wanted to do at this point was eat my dinner and watch a little Oprah. Finny, although busy playing, would have nothing of it and promptly stopped what he was doing to run over to the cable box and turn it off. He went back to his trains and busily choo-chooed until I turned the TV on again. He put down the trains and walked over to the cable box and turned it off again. So, I sat and ate and tried to regain my composure and my sense of humor about the whole scene.

Tuesday night, I cooked us a nice meal of Chicken Chow Mein. He loves sweet things; he loves noodles—this Chicken Chow Mein is the perfect combination. I set him up with everything he would need on his high chair, but before I sat down to eat, I realized I had to pee. Could it wait? No, it couldn’t. I knew I was taking a risk, but I left him in his high chair for a quick potty run and from the bathroom, I heard, “Uh-oh.” Uh-oh, which is typically reserved for accidents by most people, is usually used by Finny after he has done something on purpose. Like chuck his plate of Chicken Chow Mein onto the floor.

Kid, you do a great Will Ferrell impression, you follow my every lead when we sing Sound of Music’s “Do Re Me” through the grocery aisles, and you can really cut it up to just about any Ray Charles song that comes your way. But until you either figure out how to keep your food on your tray and off my floor or learn how to operate a mop, I’m afraid “The Perfect Specimen” does not accurately describe you. Title revoked.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Perfect Specimen

Oh, dear, sweet, innocent Finny, I don’t think he has any idea yet as to our real reasons for creating him. He’s at such a precious age where he doesn’t quite suspect our true motives for bringing him into this world. We must mold him, shape him, sculpt him into the perfect specimen we intend for him to be.

Which is why every day Finny and I sing a non-explicit, duet version of gangster rapper Notorious B.I.G.’s “Big Poppa.”

It goes a little something like this.

Mommy: I like it when you call me big…

Finny: PAPA!

Mommy: Put your hands in the air if you’re a true player!


Mommy: Goulet!

Finny: Goulet!

The “Goulet” at the end is because Mommy and Daddy’s favorite version of this song is actually done in the musical stylings of Robert Goulet as performed by Will Ferrell on Saturday Night Live to the captive audience of a wooden goat.

Even though Biggie Smalls has left behind quite a monumental rap legacy, we do not, believe it or not, want Finny to model himself after a drug-dealing rapper who died at a young age in a drive-by shooting.

On the other hand, if he someday resembles a hairy-chested Will Ferrell who makes us cry with laughter, we will be extremely pleased.


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

That's My Boy

When out-of-towners who haven’t seen Finny in a while ask what he’s up to, they always want to know, “Is he walking yet? Is he talking yet?” I wonder why they never think to ask, “Is he bustin’ out some sweet new moves on the dance floor yet?”

In case you’re wondering, yes, yes he is, and I couldn’t be prouder.

Walking and talking are certainly big deals and I don’t mean to minimize the excitement that surrounds these two events, but when I discovered this week that Finny really loves a beat he can dance to, I felt a small tear trickle down my cheek as I grabbed my heart and sighed, “That’s my boy.”

And then I turned up the volume on Billy Ocean’s “Loverboy” and jumped right in to join him.

Right now he’s got a couple signature moves, but everyday he seems to add to his repertoire and I’m quite certain that by Friday he’ll be doing The Roger Rabbit and maybe even a little Shopping Cart.

When I pick him up and twirl him around the carpet, he waves and twists his arm about in a move that seems to have some Eastern Bengali dance influences and makes me inclined to attach some small bells to the tops of his hands. In the case of our Billy Ocean dance, he waved his arm about while simultaneously singing, “Lover, lover, lover…” right along with Billy. It was nothing short of spectacular.

In the case of Dion’s “The Wanderer” or even just the introductory music to “Thomas and Friends” he kind of hunches over and side steps in a circle, almost like he’s flying solo for a round of Ring Around the Rosie.

Not only does he love to dance to any good beat that comes his way, not excluding cell phone rings and musical toys, but he also loves to exclaim outright what he’s doing by repeating “Dance, dance, dance” over and over again.

I first discovered his inner Billy Idol when I was in my bedroom and he was in his. Paul Simon’s “You Can Call Me Al” came on and I heard him saying “Dance, dance, dance.” Sure enough when I walked in the room, there he was, dancing with himself. It was like walking in on a two-foot-tall David and images of Finny in a tuxedo with a sweaty poof of hair and a screaming circle of fans swirled into my head.

The thing is: it’s contagious. I often complain about how unproductive I am these days chasing after a toddler. I can’t seem to unload the dishwasher in less than an hour, let alone clean a bathroom or vacuum the Cheerios off my car floor. And now that there’s dancing, well the chores will just have to wait. I can’t seem to resist a spontaneous dance party mid-afternoon, especially if Michael Jackson turns up on the eighties station. That is what we teachers refer to as “a teachable moment.” I mean you really have to time the crotch grab juuuust right. And I’m quite certain with my tiny dance prodigy, he’ll have that plus the moonwalk mastered by at least mid-June. I’ll keep you posted.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Bah-Bye, Moon

Finny and the moon seem to have a little something going on. In every book we read, whether full or crescent, if there’s a moon in the picture, Finny will find it. And every window we pass, whether morning or night, if there’s a moon in the sky, Finny will find it.

This morning the crescent moon lingered in the sky past daybreak, and all through breakfast, Finny called out to him, “Moon, moon, moon.” And after breakfast, when Finny climbed up into a kitchen chair, a new trick which makes him glow with pride, and then promptly tumbled backwards head first onto the hardwood floor, the only thing that could stop his tears was the sight of the moon still winking down at him from behind a tree. “Moon, moon, moon,” he called, tears streaking down his face.

And this afternoon, well after the moon had disappeared from sight, Finny could still be heard from the family room, face to the glass of the sliding door, calling, “Bah-bye, Moon. Bah-bye, Moon.”

Watch out, Mrs. Jones. Finny and Mr. Moon, they’ve got a thing going on.

That is, of course, only if Tissa is asleep in her drawer. If Tissa walks in the room, all bets are off.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Coming Unplugged

There are those of us who embrace new technology, those of us who fight new technology, and those of us who fight the fact that we’re fighting the new technology even though we really want nothing to do with it and sort of wish digital cameras, cell phones, and email had never been invented.

I fall under the latter category. But today I’ve decided to fight the fighting and embrace the fact that I really do have no desire to be plugged in at all times. Thus, I am returning my iphone. Gasp!

I know this is almost unheard of by iphone aficionados across the globe who, like my husband, proclaim that this is the most amazing piece of technology ever invented, but the truth is, I’d rather read my book. But, Jill, there’s an app for that! You can read your book on the iphone! No, no, I want to hold the book in my hands and fold down the page when I finish a chapter. But, Jill, there’s an app for that too! It makes the iphone morph into what feels like a book and with a simple touch of the screen it simulates folding the page over. No, no, I protest further, I don’t want simulation. I want the real deal.

I have a great fear that if I don’t embrace the iphone and all its app glory that somehow I will become Amish. If I don’t start reading my book on a Kindle or uploading my photos to Facebook, you will likely find me churning butter in a bonnet somewhere in Northern Ohio. To quote Thomas the train, I don’t want to be a “Fusspot” or a “Fuddy-duddy.” I don’t want to return to the workplace someday and find I am one of those “old” teachers who doesn’t know how to operate a tape deck. Yes, I know, tape decks are quite old fashioned, but the good news is so are public school systems.

I have a great fear of being left behind and so I try to force myself to embrace the new stuff and how easy it’s supposed to make my life. But, the truth is, I have an even greater fear that what’s masquerading as ease, is really making my life more complicated and difficult. Last night, I spent two hours filtering through and responding to old emails and I still have 400 emails in my inbox and this is just my personal inbox, not to mention my work inbox. I also spent an hour and a half uploading and sharing photos on Kodak Gallery last night. It will take me another half hour to go through and order them today. Isn’t it nice that we can delete bad photos and not waste money on damaged film anymore? And isn’t it nice that we can share them so quickly with friends and family? But wasn’t it also nice when the 24 pictures were taken and you could just drop them off and pick them up, rather than sift and upload and share and order for hours and hours? And isn’t it kind of nice to feel the pages of the photo book and flip, flip, flip, rather than to stare endlessly at the screen and click, click, click?

I also fear that what’s masquerading as improvement, is really decreasing my quality of life. I mean isn’t it wonderful that now men and women who already work fifty-hour weeks can check their work email on the go via the iphone? Isn’t it great that corporate America now has a way to eat into more of our at-home family time? The thing is I don’t need to know what my five hundred friends on Facebook are doing at 4 p.m. on a Tuesday. All I need to know is that my one-and-a-half-year-old just discovered that that if he throws a fistful of sand into a pool of water, it makes a plopping sound that is apparently hilarious. If I had been checking my iphone, I would’ve heard the laughter, but I would have missed the moment that smile appeared across his face.

I know. Sentimental, right? Old fashioned, right? I could’ve taken a picture of it with the iphone and shared it with 500 friends instantaneously and isn’t that awesome and joyous too? Yes, it is. But I want to see it with my own eyes, not the lens of a camera. I want to flip the page. I want to leave a fingerprint on the printed glossy. David says I’m a hippie. He might be right. But I appreciate the quality of a good daydream, a moment when I am not glued into the world of information, a moment when I am just glued into the world unfolding before my very eyes in my own backyard: my toddler at a sand table, a deer in the woods, the texture of a piece of printed paper, a dinner party with lots of eye contact. But, Jill! No, no, I’ll interrupt, there’s not an app for that.