Saturday, February 02, 2008

The Little Things

This one's about the "little things", not to be confused with my
"little people" whom I usually reference as my "short people" just to
keep things straight.


At any rate, a lot of my thinking about my children has to do with, to
be brutally honest, dreading contact with them. This arises from my
deep desire to do right by them and raise them up properly so they
don't grow up to be the kind of people I would complain about. Also,
quite honestly, most of the time that I have to interact with them, I'm
wasted. Not drunk mind you, but just physically and mentally wasted.
I'm self employed, times two, and I work all kinds of ridiculous hours
and a regular sleep schedule is out of the question. Couple that with
the desire to make my wife happy by managing what I can of the house
work (not that I think it's women's work, she's just a stay-at-home mom
at the moment and that stuff falls mostly on her), and most of the
time that I'm not working, if I'm not a complete zombie, I'm washing
something. So with only a scant hour or two each day for the tall
people to regroup, I'm either struggling to wake up, or stay awake,
fighting hunger pains, trying to manage all the details of my work, and
then push all that stuff aside so I can make truck noises and perform
in highly coreographed renditions of Disney movies.


What I realize later on sometimes is what a lame dad I am when I
interact with my kids when I'm in that condition. But over the last
couple days my schedule has eased off a bit and I got to enjoy some
true quality time with the short ones. Not that I'm really a believer
in quality time, I believe that your kids just want you around, that's
what I wanted when I was little anyway.


I was blown away by my daughter's thirst for learning. We played a
game of school that started out with show and tell. After a detailed
exhibition of the myriad contents of her backpack I started coming up
with short "lessons" for my star pupil. In the history lesson I played
on her love of the American Girl books and got her to tell me all about
life in the pioneer days. Then we switched over to spelling and I'm
pretty sure she can spell better than a good many of the people I
exchange e-mail with. And during the math lesson, she even got through
zero sum problems and still remembered to raise her hand every time.
And I was treated to this wonderful show because, for once, I was able
to extricate myself from the director/actor role where she's the driver
and instead got into some play where we were both stimulated.


And just today, while my wife had her off somewhere, I was home alone
with my two boys, well rested and ready for action. My one year old
was a continuous display of developing language skills (spoken and
sign) that I usually don't experience. My wife deals with him so much
that her reactions to his communication are so much faster than mine
and I just miss what he's saying in the cacophony of our life. I
already knew him to be very engaging and interactive, his reaction to
any sort of attention at all could melt even the stoniest of people.
We both really enjoyed the interaction that we usually don't get.


And my two year old, who is really getting the hang of being two and
all of the trying behavior that's associated with that age, was a
perfect angel today. Probably it's just cabin fever. But without a
bossy older sister and a worn out mom in the picture, he finally had
some space and was just his nice, sweet self today. I was braced for
an onslaught of disobedience and prepared to have my requests ingnored
all day. But he, like myself, seemed to just want to chill out and
enjoy the decreased estrogen levels in the house. It goes back to that
"kids just wanting you around thing" I mentioned earlier. Once he
realized that I was there if he wanted me, he was perfectly happy to
just bop around and do his own thing and call me when he needed me. He
even went to the bathroom all by himself all day, which for you
non-parents is HUGE!


So, now that I've gotten my fill of gushing about my kids out of my
system let me get on to the real thing I wanted to write about. The
crushing pressure of everyday life demands such focus that a lot of
really nice details fly by without notice. Picture the difference
between driving on an interstate and being a passenger in the same car.
The driver can only remember the traffic and the passenger has seen
all the scenery.


Remembering back a week, I got a rare visit in with my old best friend
from my high school and college days. He's caught on that if he wants
to see me he needs to hire me, so occasionally I mix for his band or he
calls me up to install a ceiling fan or something. This time it was
the latter and while I stuck a 54 inch five blade to his living room
ceiling we got caught up. I realized later that I had been told that
he was persuing a degree that he had let lapse years ago and even
though he alluded to it several times, I failed to catch on and talk
about it. All of these incidents I've mentioned, the missed and the
caught, have me wanting to train myself to adjust my frame of mind more
often so I can experience these things I've been missing.


As you're driving down the interstate... switch seats occasionally.

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