Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The waiting

It's been interesting, the last few days, as we've really gotten the potty-training thing into high gear - with great hopes of getting it over with sooner rather than later. It's been a very uneasy time around the house, for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is the ever-present "waiting for the accident" which has and will surely come again. I give great credit to our wonderful Nanny J., who is a committed to this as the rest of us for her stamina and dedication to getting us all through this stage in Dear Alex's development with a minimum of fuss and a real spirit of hope for the dear girl's progress. It's like this - Dear Alex has spent a large part of the last few days running around the apartment naked - much to her delight, but also to facilitate immediate access so that she might "pee pee on the potty" instantly, without encumbrance. While the whole experience of the delightful little girl running naked through the apartment has it's moments of fun, it also carries a certain tension for daddy, waiting for the inevitable accident, and it requires a certain watchfulness that is maddening. As I'm between jobs and home, I signed up for this "pee-pee patrol" to help Nanny J. help Dear Alex into the "big girl" world of underwear and the responsibility of knowing when it's time to go - she's not quite there yet, so every moment on a sofa or a rug without a diaper has become fraught with tension and an accident waiting to happen - no bad so far, but it's been hard to do anything else as we watch the clock and wait for the time (every twenty minutes or so) to put Dear Alex on the potty, just in case. Most of the time, she's been a good sport about it, but it does interrupt her play and free-range fun around the house, and leads to a lot of crying and protests of "I want to get down" and "I want to play" - to her credit, Nanny J. sits patiently and encouragingly through it with Dear Alex on the toilet until we surrender, with hopes for the next time. So far (two days and counting) we haven't had any accidents on the floor or furniture, but we also haven't kept up with the business of cleaning, doing stuff around the house, and figuring out what's next for me - It's a fine and learning time to watch Dear Alex go through a thing that separates the the big kids from the babies, and gives her a certain pride, even though she hasn't quite gotten it right yet.
I know that she's already figured it out, and is just waiting to make the connection with the urge and the action of elimination and we'll be through it quickly, like all of the other bits of development we've been through. I'll miss the needfulness, and the simple act of care that changing that midnight diaper has come to represent for me, but I know that there will surely be more trying needs and changes to come. In the meantime, the waiting is the hardest part.

What happened

Dear Alex still absolutely loves her swing - we did this off and on for four hours, and she never tired of the up and down, and she's even sort of figured out how to make her swing go by herself, but likes it better when daddy pushes.

But the best part was the delight she took in watching Beautiful Wife in the swing nearby -
"mommy swing daddy push!" Happiness all around.

Beautiful Wife came home from California, bearing gifts for Dear Alex and the reunion was happy and without recrimination. Dear Alex knows that mommy's here and daddy's here and all is right with her world. We had a weekend of reunion and business in the city, and a long week of work, and then a wonderful weekend away, with BW doing a magnificent job of making up for lost time in re-acquainting herself with Dear Alex and her big girl ways. It's been a wonderful and busy time, and hard to even think about staying up to write it down.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Becoming Dear Alex

Dear Alex holding Sad Thing...

It's been a long strange journey with Dear Alex over the last week and a half, and because I've been trying to write about her daily for Beautiful Wife, I've actually had the happy opportunity to pay closer attention to this child's many moods, idiosyncrasies and her ever-developing personality. It's definitely deepened my appreciation of her and her equanimity. She has fun, she pushes her limits and tries things and sometimes fails, but also sometimes succeeds. She takes it as it comes. There are so many little things that add up to make it fun and rewarding to watch this slow but daily growth in capacity and awareness, and it amazes me how complex and nuanced Dear Alex has become. I'm using big words and complex sentences to try to process what I'm trying to get at with this, wandering around a point intellectually, just to sum it up - I'm in love with Dear Alex, and the person she's becoming. There are little moments that make me smile, like her insistence on frequent hugs, especially when she somehow intuits that I'm feeling a little down. Because in her words, "hugs will make you happy". Or her instinctive reaching up to hold my hand as we come to cross a street. She'll put her free hand up in perfect imitation of the orange hand on the crossing sign as we wait for the "walking man" to appear. She knows a lot of things that I don't anymore, like how to talk to and relate to inanimate objects - I've been trying to come to a way to write about that, her understanding of the secret life of things and how utterly charming it is to hear her say a fresh "good morning" to the coffee table, and a cheery "hello" to her guitar, and maybe make up a song or two for the carpet on the floor. Of course, I'm writing about the universal experience of any two-and-a-half year old, but she's my two-and-a-half year old. As Dear Alex will sometimes say, "you and me, daddy."

Dear Alex has interesting relationships with her many stuffed animals, and a definite hierarchy of who's who, and for what emotional need she may be experiencing. There's the one constant, the ever-more-threadbare "original bunny", but the others, like knuffle bunny, they come and go - occasionally in the crib, occasionally banished for reasons known only to Dear Alex. She has developed a complex relationship with one unfortunate-looking stuffed bear who she named "Sad Thing" - definitively banned from the crib at bedtime, but sometimes called for when Dear Alex feels the need to cheer someone or something up. Dear Alex loves Sad Thing, then doesn't.

She takes pride in what she knows, and will share that with you if she's feeling like it - sometimes she doesn't care to engage with anyone at all - and can play by herself, endlessly inventing and reinventing scenes and scenarios to put her fleets of taxis and trucks and trains and little plastic people through.

Ah, what I guess I'm getting at is that incredible imagination, that I'm finally coming to appreciate now that she can sort of communicate just what the heck it is that she's doing - This is developing storytelling, and I'm hoping to give her lots of great ones to tell.


Dear Alex getting a lesson in the simple joys of dropping rocks in the water off the dirty dock
- and a lesson about never going near the water without mommy or daddy.

Dear Alex at home in her crib, in the hoodie that she wouldn't take off for a day and a half. No big deal.

This morning I did my usual check to see what was new on boingboing.net, and found a link to this: http://freerangekids.wordpress.com/ and it kind of struck me that, well, Lenore Skenazy is right on, and we're already practicing what his smart woman is suggesting. A long, long time ago I started lil'screamie with a half-serious and not very well written post about "protecting your baby from the dangers of sharp edges", and a host of other things that struck me as absurd fear-mongering to sell products - It bothered me then, and it still bugs the crap out of me. I think it's our responsibility as parents to let our kids get dirty, make mistakes, experience the consequences of making a bad choice, and to learn from that experience. I really want that self-confidence and strength that engenders. I personally can't wait 'til she's old enough to run down to the deli to pick up some half n' half for daddy's coffee. In the country, I try to take her outside as much as possible and really let her run free, And even occasionally leave her alone (never out of sight, just out of her view) to see what she does, and see how she's doing. She almost never notices that I'm not hovering behind her, and she just plays. How simple is that? This weekend, she found herself a pile of leaves - a deep pile of leaves, up to her waist, she waded in sat down, and buried herself in them. Wet and dirty and cold? You bet. But she had fun, and I didn't worry - when she's not so sure about something, Dear Alex will give out a little cry for "daddy", and I'll always be there for her, but I won't micro-manage. The article and blog that inspired this post are directed more at slightly older kids, and at parents letting kids be kids - an appropriate backlash, I think, to a culture that's gone waaay over the top in protecting our kids from harm and germs and failure and, well, life.
I'm all for lightening up, and it's never too early to start teaching a kid the skills they need to separate what's safe from what's dangerous, what can really hurt them from what's unreasonable fear, and how to tell the difference.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Ketchup (or is it catsup?) on the towel

Pink Pony and Dear Alex on the couch. They have amazing conversations, and she takes great care in treating pony well.

On the deck after the rains - a gray and windy day, perfect for a big black hoodie to hang out in. Dear Alex won't take it off.

Today started early, as daddy forgot one of the basics at the house in the country - closing the bathroom door to Dear Alex's room - because when the sun comes up and the light comes in, Dear Alex is awake with a vengeance. We both got up at 7am, with Dear Alex being in far better shape than I, as I was up late working on my ambitious "getting rid of excess baggage project" in the basement. It was empty when we moved in, it's practically full now. I managed to get to my goal of filling the requisite two full garbage bags... If I keep it up, by next winter I'll have a clean slate. As if.
It was a cold, gray and rainy morning, almost the exact opposite of our day yesterday, but the low clouds and lower temperatures outside made the house feel like a small and cozy island of warmth as the wind-driven rain rattled against the windows as I carried Dear Alex down the stairs for the first diaper and cup of milk (and cup of coffee) for the day - I'd managed to remember to turn on the heat, so it was a comfortable place to watch the light come up and the magnificent clouds and rain. If the light yesterday was warm and golden (it was), today it was silvery, cool and flat, but still, a beautiful day on Planet Earth. Dear Alex remembered our conversation about the moon and the earth from last night and asked me again to show her pictures - first from a book, and then the "computer" pictures of the earth from space. I'm glad she remembered, and it feels like something we'll talk about a long time from now. We pretty much did nothing else but flop on the couches, and build things and drive toy cars around and read books. At some point, Dear Alex decided that her friend the giant pink pony should get to lie on the couch, too, so she somehow managed to haul this giant stuffed pony (thank you sister Linda) onto the couch - much to my dismay, as that was my spot. We got it together, and eventually went outside so that Dear Alex could get cold and dirty and wet, playing in the huge piles of leaves and muddy ground after the rain. She had a lot of fun, and it was fine with me as I'd thought to bring a change of clothes, and there was a nice warm hoodie sweatshirt to put her in. That was it - her thing for the day, which she's still wearing over her PJs as I write - a few-sizes-too-large black caterpillar (the bulldozer company) hoodie, with a yellow fleece lining. I'll peel it off of her in the morning. Late in the afternoon, we got in the car - Dear Alex didn't want to leave the country - nor did I, really, but I've got work, and we'd be missed. Dear Alex fell asleep right after we crossed into NJ and didn't wake up until we were sitting in traffic at the George Washington bridge. A nice quiet and reflective drive for me, and a chance to think over the wonder that is life on earth (forgive me, I still can't get last night's stargazing and subsequent conversation out of my mind) and the fun of sharing what I can with Dear Alex.

The curious title of this post comes from something later - as we were moving all the things from parking the car up to the city apartment, Dear Alex took a little fall in the hallway to the elevator - no big deal, tears and cries of "I've got a boo-boo on my fingerrrrs" which daddy of course, kissed each sticky little finger in turn and cured on-the-spot, no problem - She was fine. We got upstairs, and I got a wipe to clean her fingers, did so, and gave it to Dear Alex to hold (she's like that - "I want the towel", so, okay...) A few minutes later she started shouting to me that there was "ketchup on the towel - ketchup on the towel" - I had absolutely no idea what she was talking about - but it was blood - her blood, seeping from around her fingernails and her cuticles - I've honestly never seen anything like it, and it kind of freaked me out. There was also blood on everything else she'd touched - the couch, her clothes... It stopped pretty quickly, and I cleaned just about everything up, but as before, I've never seen anything like it... and it was weird and scary to me that Dear Alex has no idea what blood is, and that I had to really make an effort to not freak out and scare her... All is fine as I write this, but it's one of those things we take for granted. - Dear Alex has had a safe and healthy life, to the point that she has no idea of the implications of (or even a name for) blood or bleeding- other, I guess, than sometimes ketchup might leak out of us.

Dear Alex and the moon.

Another Saturday morning on the couch, watching endless re-runs of "the crying baby" on daddy's computer - a little clip of her crying madly for "mommy, mommy, mommy" - I wonder what it is about it that fascinates her.

At play in the country, having fun outside - lots of snot, but so-o-o much better than yesterday.

A moment of reflective joy next to pony. The whole trip was really because she wanted to see "pink pony."

We finally had enough of the city, so Dear Alex and daddy came to a joint decision this grey New York Saturday to get in the car and go to the country - Dear Alex had been hinting at it for days, and I've personally been on my own crusade to go, if for no other reason than for the change in scene and perspective, and the time to think and pause - it's a small mental break from the routine and the pressure to find something engaging for the kid - though just walking down any street provides enough entertainment for her to do it for days, with the constant and ever-engaging questions of "what's this and what's that?" We had a fine ride in the car, and as we were crossing the George Washington bridge Dear Alex told me that she was going to fall asleep in her car-seat, and she magically did - somewhere just after Paterson, NJ - just like that. Out. She woke up just as we were crossing the little bridge into Pennsylvania, and we went to the store and bought enough groceries to stay for a week - even though we're going back to the city tomorrow. I should never food-shop when I'm hungry. We did nothing for the rest of the day but hang out, and play outside and visit briefly with our kind and wonderful across-the-street neighbors. It was a very nice day - a reminder, a taste of a summer yet to come - warm in the sun with that hint of cool winter-was-just-here undertone. There's no sign of green in the trees yet, but you can just feel it coming. We had a late dinner, and got the PJs on at 8 or so and put on slippers and I put the girl in one of Beautiful Wife's jackets (which she loved) then we turned out the house lights and went outside to see the night sky - something Dear Alex and I haven't done in a long, long time. There was a beautiful perfect half-moon high in the sky with a scattering of stars, not fully out as the sky went from black at the zenith to a deep pink purple on the horizon from the long sunset. Dear Alex was amazed, and asked me about the moon and where it was up in the sky and "is it big?" And I told her that it was indeed very big, but it was very far away, and that's why it's so small in the sky. She sang "twinkle twinkle little star" to the stars, pointed to one she decided was her favorite, then asked me again "where is the moon?" - I said it was far away, but it traveled with us around the sun, and then I tried to explain to her how it all worked - that the Earth was a planet that went around the sun and the moon was like a planet that went around the Earth. She's a little young for the whole celestial mechanics thing, but it seemed to hold her attention. Somewhere along the way I told her that Man had walked on the moon back when daddy was little, and someday someone might do it again - this absolutely floored her - I had to explain it, then show her pictures of the Earth from space, and pictures of astronauts on the lunar surface. (thank you, internet) She noted the helmets and gloves and (in her words) "the big thick coats" (the spacesuits) they were wearing. Her biggest question to me was "what was her name who walked on the moon?" As I said Neil Armstrong, It occurred to me there was never a her on the moon. Pity. We both got something out of staying up late tonight, and It was a weird delight to hear my daughter say "I live on earth." I love this girl for the questions, and that through the whole time we were outside, she never stopped looking up in amazement at the sky.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Domestic disturbances

I came home from work yesterday, just making it in time to take the hand off of Dear Alex as Dear nanny J. was leaving - usually I make it in time to have a little debrief about the day, and a heads up about what's been going on around the house and with the kid. We had the usual hugs and a little play, and it slowly dawned on me that there were some things out of order - a broken lamp in the living room, a drawer handle askew in the kitchen, a print fallen off the wall in dear Alex's room - I started to wonder what had happened while I was out. (actually, that could be the subject of a lot of posts, I am constantly wondering what actually fills Dear Alex's days...) It was no one big thing, but the accumulation of mute signs that the place was falling apart around me. Not that foreboding, actually, but it fits with the strangeness that's been going on for the last few days, and made me wonder. I've been a little tired for the last few days, as I haven't really had a solid good night's sleep.
Outside, the City of New York has been preparing to repave a large chunk of Third Avenue, a very heavily trafficked approach to the 59th street bridge. What that means is that they've been doing the work at night - all night, with a giant pavement eating machine that makes an impossibly mournful growling groaning sound, so deep and ever-present that I think I've internalized it. That continuous noise isn't the problem - The giant pavement eating machine makes pass after pass, growling along and dumping the ground-up pavement efficiently into a semi-sized trailer that rolls faithfully along beside it, with the occasional ring of a stray large chunk of chewed pavement on steel a bright counterpoint to the heavy bass of the endlessly running machine. It's the jackhammers that wake me - all of the cuts around manhole covers and curbs require more precision than the gentle loud giant can provide. Even with fancy soundproofed windows, it's a constant - and I fall asleep tentatively, waiting for the next burst from the jackhammers. It's a miracle and a wonder that Dear Alex has slept through it the last two nights, especially considering that most of the noise is outside her window. It seems to only bother me.

So, it turns out that there's not a poltergeist in the house - Dear Alex and her busy two-year-old self caused the minor destruction that I came home to - pushing her considerable fleet of taxis (it's always the cab's fault) into the lamp bringing it to the floor, her attempts to see what was on the kitchen counter, hanging from the drawer handles pulled it loose, and slapping that print that's been hanging over her changing table forever finally brought it down. My sleeplessness is real, and the giant pavement-eating machine outside my window is to me only an apt metaphor for the grinding nature of how things are feeling to me now, counting down the days until Beautiful Wife returns.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

This one's for Dear Alex

...Who occasionally reads lil'screamie. (sort of) Beautiful Wife on a horse. All the way over there in California. (Dear Alex runs to the map on the wall and points)
The last time I saw BW on a horse was our honeymoon, and that's starting to feel like an awfully long time ago - not because of boredom, but because so much has happened in the three and a half years or so since our wedding - a blur. But then again, the time feels light like nothing, the blink of an eye.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Music appreciation

"Good morning table, I love you, candle"
(note object in her right hand - LED candle, banished from her room last night)

Bling bling "YELLOW is my favorite color and carpet's on the FLOOR
Furniture is good and three little birds in your eyes of blue!"

..and then we got serious.

This morning, Dear Alex was a wonder - all sweetness and light, it was the best of times. As I have written, there is a lot of satisfaction in that good morning ritual, needs unspoken and familiar easily met. We started early today, with plenty of time to play, and get into the morning in way that I haven't seen in a while. Dear Alex was in a musical mood, and she played a song on her yellow guitar, completely off key, atonal and random - but with real joy and energy. It was fun to watch, but it was impossible to sing along. It strikes me that this is important stuff, that she's fearlessly combining and recombining songs and music that she's heard to make something her own and to entertain herself and play for an appreciative audience. I love this quality of creative fearlessness, and freshness and doing what feels good because she likes doing it, and as bad as her singing might be - she really doesn't care, and I'm certainly not going to tell her - ever. At some point, her mood changed, and Dear Alex stopped the random strumming and singing, and asked "can I play xylophone"? Of course. She got very serious, and played and sang a pretty creditable rendition of "twinkle twinkle little star" softly, and hit the keys of the xylophone in time, with great care and precision* - it's as though she was telling, no demonstrating to me that in addition to flying her freak flag, she could also play by the rules, and do it pretty damn well. It was amazing, but then again, Dear Alex is amazing. I write about this not so much to boast about her musical talent (that remains to be seen) but in wonder at what drives her performance and her fearlessness... Oh, wait - It's that two-ish lack of self consciousness - no filters, because there are no cultural references yet. I love it, but why then the careful, considered performance to close the musical morning? Maybe she just wanted to see if she could.
Waking up to Dear Alex is my second favorite thing in the world, second only to waking up next to Beautiful Wife - Five nights away, and only ten more days until BW returns from California, but who's counting?**

*Dear nanny J. had arrived by this point, and witnessed the whole performance. It stopped her, too.
** So far, It's 23 diapers, 6 meals, 2 baths, and 5 solo Putting-Dear-Alex-to-Bed rituals. (not that I'm counting, or anything)

Monday, April 07, 2008


Not really about this post, but an image from another walk with daddy - Dear Alex was absolutely fascinated by the YELLOW! sidewalk, and couldn't stop walking over it, back and forth - we were in no hurry, so we got to hang out and talk about YELLOW!

As I mentioned in a post before, I got to spend a little time away from Dear Alex on Sunday - four hours off from solo dad responsibility. It was a little odd, the unexpected silence - the deadness I felt almost immediately on walking into our empty apartment. An hour earlier I couldn't wait to hand her off for some downtime, but all of the sudden it hit me how weirdly attached and accustomed I'd become to the company and responsibility of the kid. I really didn't know what to do with myself. I was lonely, and honestly couldn't focus on what exactly it was that I had wanted to do. I set to planning some errands for us to fill the times that we'd have together after work and before bedtime - walks to take and things to buy to entertain her and get her out in the world and ask me questions and show me things from her always fascinating point of view.
I went to work today and had the chance in between actually working to think about that a bit, and I missed her today - and I wonder where in the scheme of things I fit in Dear Alex's world, and how she thinks about Beautiful Wife and daddy and our respective presences and absences in her life - after our weekend spent mostly together, I went and disappeared for the day today, yet she accepted me tonight with open arms and a hug and a kiss. In a way it's not so fair - I get an hour or so in the morning and a little more than two hours at night to spend with the kid. Dear nanny J gets all day. The mornings are the best, the quiet dark room and Dear Alex's sleepy-sweaty head coming up over the edge of the crib for a hug and a lift to the changing table and a cup of milk. It's a reassurance, and a routine that feels like a very complete act of fulfilling the responsibility of taking care. It's something concrete to change a diaper and give a hug and provide nourishment. There, I did that. The other stuff (and what's on my mind) is a lot harder - am I present enough, does she feel the love - does Dear Alex know how much love BW and I have for her and that mommy would be here if she could? Does she feel the closeness and our wishes for the best for her? Probably not, most likely she's not really thought about it at all, but you can never tell.
We had a nice adventure tonight, a walk to the grand post office to ride the escalator and mail a letter, then a walk to the local Home Depot to ride the escalators and get a few little things - but it was mostly for the walk, and specifically, the walk with daddy which she's been doing all her life - When all else fails, we go for a walk - and we're both happier for it.
Dear Alex misses Beautiful Wife, and so do I. Any distraction these days is a welcome one, and any chance to give the kid something positive and concrete to remember beyond missing mommy is a comfort to both of us.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Daddy's tired

One of those pictures that will haunt her forever - Dear Alex wearing Grammy's reading glasses and expounding on the implications of the moon and shadows on the second Gecko child of "The Goodnight Gecko". Yes, she's wearing underwear on the outside of her PJs - Don't ask - it was her idea. She's two.

Today was a long and strange day - Dear Alex woke up screaming for mommy at 7am, but I went in and changed her diaper and gave her a cup of milk in the crib, and she went mercifully back to sleep without protest. I was awake - but it was good to have the time and that relative morning calm to pull myself together and shower, and figure out the arc of the day to come. It ended up being one of those always slightly-behind-the-curve kind of days, with just about everything (meaning everything having anything to do with Dear Alex) moving in absolute slow motion. It feels as though Dear Alex has decided to protest the absence of Beautiful Wife by simultaneously staging a sit down strike and a hunger strike - She was sweet and good natured and nice (no tears or tantrums) but she was also either in a fugue-state of momentary focus on everything but the task at hand (putting on a sock, picking out a book, having a diaper change) or simply completely oblivious to the fact that there even was a task at hand (absoluely no attention to anything but her own considerable internal and occasionally verbalized stream of consciousness...) that it was as though we were moving through molasses. It easily took an hour to transition from her much-loved flower PJs into an outfit that sort of resembled clothing - but of course at the last minute Dear Alex had a change of heart, or mind, and decided that she wanted to wear "blue jeans like mommy and daddy". I should point out that I was wearing khakis at the time. She's like that. We were on a mission of course, I had a secret agenda of getting Dear Alex to Grammy's house to hand her bad self off so that I might have a bit of time to not attend to Dear Alex (not that I mind taking care of her, mind you...) It eventually happened, and she was whisked off to the birthday party of cousin Austin, a great kid, but 6 years old with 6-year-old friends. I'm sure it was delightful, but that bedlam probably would have put me finally over the edge. Grammy and George came through, took care, and managed to keep Dear Alex entertained and loved and reportedly content for something like 4 hours - Dear Alex also got a new pair of smart YELLOW! sneakers that light up when she walks in them, which is really funny to watch as the girl tries to walk and look for the lights at the same time. Until she gets over the novelty, I'm going to have to watch out for her lest she walk herself into a wall or a fire hydrant or something as she's looking down and behind - or maybe I'll just put her helmet on...
Today was a good day, ending with a family dinner in celebration for a bunch of us that have birthdays around this time of year, so a big shout out to all in the family, and another thank you (!) to Grammy and George is in order. As for Dear Alex, she pretty much held it together, and we got home and had a late bedtime thanks to the astonishing amount of chocolate cake (mmm-sugar) she ate - breaking the hunger strike, I hope. Dinner was interesting in a way - it had me thinking about the kid, and how her wonderful attitude and relative sophistication (odd word for a two-year-old) can lull one into forgetting that she is only two-and-a-half, but it comes back to you when you realize that the child you're sitting next to is like a little time-bomb that could go off at any second, the subject of her own unknowable triggers. As parents we try to figure out what those triggers are, call in the bomb squad, and cut the wires before anyone gets hurt.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

After the show

How do you top the greatest show on earth? You can't possibly, so Dear Alex and I went for a long walk instead, actually a couple of them. There were errands to run, and supplies to get, so we spent the rest of this oddly, finally spring-like New York city day outside - the girl was in the best of moods, and wanted nothing other than to hang out with me talk about the circus and wear her pink gloves. I'm not sure what this new fascination with the gloves is, but she really wouldn't think of going out without them - and telling everyone that she "HAS GLOVES ON"
(Her emphasis, not mine) We did some shopping and walking and telling strangers about her gloves. (I genuinely love the effect this little girl has on jaded New Yorkers - people just like me, who generally couldn't be bothered by anything, just light up at her little quirky self) We spent some time walking back and forth over a painted yellow square on the sidewalk ("IT'S YELLOW!") and then went home for a diaper change, and then right back out to go shopping again for food and a trip to the "raincoat store" (Dear Alex's new name for Conran's) where we spent a good hour sitting in chairs and handling expensive fragile things. It's wierd, but for all of her two-ish ness, (i.e.: pink tu-tu and fireman's hat over camouflage pajamas and brightly colored striped socks) Dear Alex seems to be drawn to good design - the trip to the raincoat store was her idea not mine, and it took me only a minute to figure out that's where she wanted to go. We had a slice of pizza for dinner, went food shopping, and got home in time for an easy bedtime. All the walking we did certainly tired her out. 30 seconds and done: "goodnight daddy." Goodnight Dear Alex.

Greatest show on earth

Possibly, probably, If you're two-and-a-half. Dear Alex and I went to the circus today (thank you Grammy and George) and the kid was mesmerized. Fascinated. Astonished. I have absolutely no idea what she thought about what she was seeing, but she really couldn't stop looking. She danced to the music, clapped her hands at all the right places, and seemed to have a really good time. It held her attention for nearly three hours - all of the other kids in the room lost focus there for a little while, but Dear Alex kept watching, and I kept watching her - just trying to process that fascination. We were in a box, about 8 stories above the show, so it might have been a little bit like watching TV to her - that remote "it's happening over there" sense, but Dear Alex had a great experience today. She got to see live elephants (her favorite part of the show) and tigers. ("MEOWWW says the big cat" she said to me - though you really couldn't hear what they were saying from so far away) This will stick with her for a while, I think. There were a lot of acts, and some bits with a clown stealing the show, and some dance spectaculars that had Dear Alex bouncing up and down and doing her side-to-side shuffle right in time. Fun, really. This will be a tough act to follow.

Friday, April 04, 2008

L.A. time

So I said goodbye to Beautiful Wife again today, who's on a plane to Los Angeles as I write. It was an exceptionally hard goodbye for me, as it's going to be the longest, and probably most difficult stretch of separation that we've seen, not just for the duration, but the timing, and my own need for something beyond the simple focus on getting through every day. To put it directly, I'm jealous, and it should be me making the incredibly difficult and heroic wage-earning journey. But it's not my turn - BW is great at what she does, and will do well over the next couple of weeks.
I'm comfortably working again on a web project, but one without the immediacy and romance of making television. I know that were the circumstances reversed, it would be just as hard, but BW would do just as well at taking care with Dear Alex as I'm bound to for the next two weeks. It's a complicated thing, making a living making advertising of any kind these days, so we all do what we can. There were many times when we were there together, and remembering that certainly helps.
Heading west does feel different, and it's kind of like heading towards the light - 3 hours earlier almost erases the time it takes to get there and suddenly it's warmer and there are more possibilities and the light and even the air is different. I write about this because I know, I've been there and I love it and I'm going to miss BW - Have fun, Beautiful Wife - you're going to be great. Tonight Dear Alex proudly pointed out California, and even Los Angeles, and told me that "mommy was flying there up in the sky". Indeed.