Thursday, January 31, 2008

Elmo Rises

I entered fatherhood as an Elmo-hater. I saw Elmo as Sesame Street's equivalent to Scrappy. In my mind, post-Elmo Sesame Street was like post-Scrappy Scooby Doo. It sucked. The little red thing annoyed the hell out of me. His whiny little voice put me instantly on edge. I despised everything in Elmo’s world, from the fish to the bald perv that peeks in the window. Elmo was an interloper taking away time from Grover, Oscar, Bert, and Ernie. I wanted Kermit brought back on Sesame Street, and Elmo kicked off. Not only was Elmo annoying in his own right, but like Scrappy, he ushered in other annoying characters. Instead of Flim-Flam and Vincent Van-Ghoul Elmo brought Baby Bear, Zoe, Abby Cadabby, and Telly to prominence. Elmo had ruined a great show, and driven my favorite characters out of the limelight. His voice was irritating, his antics simple by Sesame Street standards, and his habit of referring to himself in the third person terribly annoying, or at least Sam thinks so. The few times I had watched a bit of Sesame Street in the last few years, all I had seen was Elmo. Elmo was evil, he had conquered Sesame Street, thus Sesame Street was evil and I wanted nothing to do with it.

And then Dipity took a liking to my wife's Elmo doll. My wife is younger, and grew up with an already corrupted sesame street. She liked Elmo, a fact I had always assumed was due to the misfortune of her late birth and her inability to know any better because of said late birth. I'd forgiven her Elmo-fatuation, and unfortunately I'd allowed the little red thing into my house. By the first time she saw him on you tube (we have long used Sesame Street excerpts on you tube to facilitate hair brushing and prettying), Dipity was already smitten. I was disgusted, at least at first. Somewhere between watching him sing with the Goo Goo Dolls and interact with Super Grover, the little thing started to grow on me. Now I actually almost look forward to Elmo's world, although the ask a baby stuff and the bald perv still annoy me a little. I like Telly now too. I mean, he learned to play catch from Joe Torre. Baby Bear's stock hasn't appreciated it quite the same way. He's the new Elmo/Scrappy. He's an annoying little know-it-all. And the fairy, well the whole magic thing just gets on my nerves. Why is it possible for spells to be cast on Gordon and Maria? No little sprite, or her wand, should be able to mess with Gordon. So the fairy and Baby Bear are still on my list, and Rosita is in limbo, but Elmo is on the rise.
Elmo's rise has been pretty under the radar, but it is more than a little disquieting. As I type this, Dipity is sitting on my lap reading Baby Bop Discovers Shapes. My thoughts are dark ... dark and purple.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008


A month or so ago I decided to start paying attention to the presidential race. I did it with great trepidation. I knew I had to pay attention, but I also knew how depressing it would be. First of all, when was the last contest that had more than one really good candidate (The West Wing election doesn't count). Hell, when was the last presidential election with one good candidate. Second, I detest campaign ads, and campaigning in general. All we get are platitudes, lies, and nastiness. There are real policies in there, but you have to wade through talk of slum lords and Reagan worship to get to them. Third, after the last two presidential elections, the very mention of a presidential election fills me with great foreboding. Fourth, I'm not sure when exactly to fit it in to my day. Maybe during diaper changes. That's what I need, a little flat screen television on the changing table. Fifth, I knew that really following an American election meant relying on the American press. The BBC wasn't going to cut it. This is the real kicker for me. It means I find myself reading stories about how Obama snubbed Clinton by not shaking her hand at the State of the Union. How is this important? Why is this news? Is this election for President or student council? And that story was CNN. I would love to make fun of the story lines on FoxNews, but I refuse to watch or read anything they produce. At least MSNBC has Keith Olberman leading their election coverage. That raises the possibility that sports will infiltrate into election night. It also makes possible references to reconstruction, Lincoln, and Andrew Jackson. No other election coverage went back before 1980. For the record, I would make more use of NPR if I had a car radio which received FM signals. Anyway, at the end of this nonsense I am sure we will have selected a horrible president (Romney is still alive), but at least I will be able to go back to the BBC full-time.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Too Many Bows

I'm certainly not the John Wayne of stay at home dads, but even I have my limits. Back before Dipity began wearing clothes, or even before anyone began buying it for her, I vowed that she would not be one of those girls with wardrobes, rooms, and lives covered in nothing but pink, purple, and the occasional soft yellow. I was determined that she would have blue jeans, sweatshirts, and lots of red and blue. She does wear jeans, and her wardrobe includes green, blue, and red. She wears an awful lot of pink though, and has right from the start. It is hard to stop people from buying pink for a girl. They just don't know any better. The programming is too strong. Once it's in the wardrobe, it's not going to go un-worn. And once pink and its girly brethren made it into Dipity's wardrobe, I found myself aiding and abetting the girly colors cause. She looks good in pink. Plus, before she had a ton of hair, the only way to stop gender confusion was to put her in one of the appropriate colors. However it happened, the bottom line is pink and purple don't bother me anymore. Bows and ribbons though ... My wife's best friend recently bought Dipity an outfit that was pink and pinker. When we opened it I remember thinking how cute it was (at this point I my emasculation is so close to complete that I don't even flinch before I let loose with a "how cute is that," or a "that looks fine, but not with those shoes"). Today I decided to put said outfit on. I went through the negotiations entailed in getting Dipity out of her pajamas and into her outfit, stood back, and gasped. It was very pink, but that wasn't anywhere near as traumatic as the bows. One on each ankle, one on each wrist, and one on each pocket. That's more than one too many. I was shocked, disgusted, and then proud. It was clear that some pocket of manhood had withstood a year of stay at home dadding, even though I entered the experienced with my manhood already quite compromised (I had disagreements with my mother-in-law over the flower arrangements and with my wife over the bridesmaid dresses). It's nice to know that I have limits, that all my anti-gender classification blustering wasn't hot air. I'd get more excited about all this if Dipity didn't still have the outfit on, or if I thought there was a chance I would forbid a repeat wearing. But at least I didn't run out and buy shoes with matching bows. And even though she's standing next to her kitchen, I swear she was playing with a cement truck not a minute before. I would have taken a picture of that, but it's blue and it would have clashed with the outfit.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Tree Pease

Last night my wife uttered five words that I never thought would be uttered in our house, at least not together in one sentence. When she said "can you hide the broccoli," we both had to hold back the laughter. She'd already said "only one more piece." She'd also had to put broccoli in the cheese sandwich in order for her to eat it. And Dipity, after her first tentative bite, had eaten piece of broccoli after piece of broccoli. When the little green guys didn't come fast enough, she would let loose a "brocclii pease" or "tree pease." It was just too much for us. Until two weeks ago, it had been months since even a pea had been given any serious consideration. Corn and avocado were the only vegetable-like substances Dipity would suffer. And then one day she wanted "dad's peas." Last week she ate cooked carrots. And now, it's little trees. In toddler world, nothing stays the same for very long. It's comforting to know that the changes can go in any direction, even ones that are parentally perceived to be positive.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Tuesday January 22, 2008

This last weekend the three of us were up in West Hartford, Connecticut. We spent our MLK vacation with my wife's best friend and her family. They have a daughter who is five or so months younger than Dipity. Her nap schedule doesn't overlap at all with Dipity's. They eat at different times. And it was freezing cold. So, we spent most of our visit inside of their house.

Visiting a friend used to mean you had a chance to explore whatever place they were calling home at that moment. Now, it wouldn't really matter where our friends lived. The only thing that really matters now when it comes to friends home's is distance. How far are they from our house? How far are they from the expressway? How far are they from the airport? How far will we be from Dipity at night? How removed from children are these people. And how close are we to these folks?

This weekend we had a four hour drive, ten minutes of which was non-highway driving. We drove, so I don't even know if they have an airport. Besides, they are well within the it's not worth it to put up with flying with a toddler radius. We were not in the same room as Dipity, but still within earshot. Also within earshot was their toddler, who was actually louder than Dipity, so there was no screaming/misbehaving/schedule ruining toddler related guilt. And, my wife talks to this person all the time, who is her best friend and was maid of honor in her wedding (which was also mine), so we would have put up with a less advantageous set of distance variables. Besides, they have a huge house and a huge television.

We didn't spend every moment inside though. We saw two of Hartford's streets up close (the two closest to our host's house). The kids rode in their wagon. Dipity was a screech. Her snowsuit (a hand me down from one of my wife's work colleagues), was straight out of the 80's. It was very pink, very goofy, very clearly sporting a cheerleader with pom-poms, very much clashed with her purple hat and gloves, and was very free. Dipity's boots, which we purchased ... from a church sale, light up when she walks. Dipity's attitude didn't light or lighten up. She had a cold, and no sense of humour when it came to the snowsuit, the wagon, her cold, the close proximity of the other toddler, the camera, or ... anything else. Maybe she was reflecting on the immensity of MLK and his legacy, and the large part of his vision still unrealized. Maybe she had gas. With a toddler you never can tell.
Monday January 21

Barack Obama has been hit with that most vile of all labels. He has ... I can hardly even bring myself to think it, let alone type it ... he's been called a ... Muslim!! Who could do such a thing? This is in the same league as saying McCain was gay. Someone did that in 2000. Can you believe it?

Obama responded to his horrible rumor by saying that "I think that those who are of the Muslim faith are deserving of respect and dignity." What a guy. He is so gracious and respectful. I don't think I could have endured such an insult with such grace and thoughtfulness. If he hadn't gone on the attack, though, I don't think I could have continued to consider voting for him. I mean, to let such a vile accusation go unanswered. Someone might actually think he was a Muslim. So I'm glad he said, "but to try and feed into this fear-mongering and try to question my faith commitments and my belief in Jesus Christ, I think is offensive." I am so thankful that Obama stood up and reassured America that he is a "committed Christian" and that he "felt a beckoning of the spirit and accepted Jesus Christ into his life." He has put it in writing in his most recent mailer in South Carolina, it's right there over top of the picture with him in the pulpit in front of an organ and a cross.

Obama has come through this trial with flying colors. He has answered this horrible accusation with strength and courage. I shudder to think what might have happened had he just laughed it off, or said something frightful like: "I'm hoping that I can do my part to bring our country to a place where being called a Muslim or a gay man wouldn't be considered an insult, and couldn't possibly be used as part of a smear attack of a Presidential candidate." What would Muslims in this country and around the world think of a country where such a statement was possible. How could they possibly consider such a place to be a beacon of light? What kind of a world would I be bringing my Dipity into if such a thing were possible. I will certainly rest easier tonight.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Sometimes you just wanna scream

Dipity and her new kitchen
My Libretto

She’s lyrical
I’m not exactly sure what I mean by that
Maybe it’s that she reminds me of all the good songs I should be able to write
and all the great poetry that there’s no reason I shouldn’t be writing
Her essence is just beyond my ability to capture it …
to reveal her simple and awe inspiring truth
and convey it to someone else
Her whole world happens below my belly button
that doesn’t really roll off the tongue,
and it sounds a little … well a little like a statement I shouldn’t make in public
There’s always the dancing
I show that off in public all the time
Just provide music and step back
It’s the best … but, come to think of it, it may not be dancing
Dancing isn’t an accurate or comprehensive enough label
And spelling words wrong doesn’t perfectly convey the poetry of her discourse
It’s in my headdd, but it won’t come upppp or outdd
That’s about as clear as if I was to describe her hair
A true tangle fest
Kind of like these thoughts,
And kind of like when she sits on me,
while reading a book,
as I lie on the floor studying the poetry of her movement,
and the artistic expression of,
skinny little fingers,
miniature elbows,
an impossibly studious face
a curly mess of hair
and all the other lines of my little libretto
If only I could hum it in crowds

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


I have been writing some poetry and submitting it to various places. Not much luck so far, but I do have lots of poetry to show for my effort. So, I thought I might share one.

She’s the Daughter

“Don’t turn the cup over …”
And she does
Of course she does
She’s the daughter
And … I’m the parent
I’m the parent
I am a parent
I am her parent
I am the parent
No matter how I say it
Or how many times I say it
It’s still true
And weird
I’m not the parent
But of course I am the parent
It’s the truth
It really doesn’t matter what I say,
I’m always the parent
And it’s truly weird
Which may be why I still say it out loud
I’m not sure why I keep saying “don’t turn over the cup”
That isn’t true
Or, it isn’t truly effective
But, I still say it
And the response never changes
Nothing changes
Except that one day most of it will
Maybe even one day soon
I mean she won’t be twenty and still pouring out a sippy cup full of juice onto the floor
So it has to change
But I may not notice
I’ll just be shouting out some other admonishment
So I won’t miss anything, at least not right away
Except I already miss watching her run naked through the house
Even though she still runs naked through the house
Because she definitely won’t be doing that at twenty
“Hold onto your cup … please”
But she won’t
It doesn’t work that way
Because I’m the parent
And she’s the daughter

Monday, January 14, 2008

Closed Captioning

My phone conversations now come with closed captioning ... of a sort. It's not for the hearing impaired, though. I'm not sure what to call it. Dipity would qualify as height impaired, but so would my wife's best friend. Reasoning impaired would bring in half of the Republican presidential candidates. Vegetable impaired might work, but it conjures up too many bizarre visuals. Picture a carrot up someone's ass. Wait, that would be vegetable impaled. Maybe the better visual is of a blind parsnip, or would that be an impaired vegetable. Anyway, maybe the best label for what Dipity does is closed captioning for the age impaired.

Of course, it's not really closed captioning. Dipity doesn't really lend herself to being shut off. The captioning she provides isn't optional. It is, however, damn funny.

Since she's been on the scene, a large percentage of my phone time is spent relating Dipity's exploits. Now, as I relate the exploits, they are simultaneously re-enacted. When I tell my mother-in-law about the time Dipity rammed her head into the wall, Dipity looks at me and slaps herself in the head. When I tell my mom the same story, she actually rams her head into the wall again. When I let my wife know that Dipity's screetches are now followed by a long extended "shhhhhh," Dipity screams and says "shhhhh." All dinner reports have to include a lot of spelling, or else I have a hungry parrot on my hands. Any mention of an article of clothing leads either to a short tutorial or a strip tease.

The conversation doesn't, however, have to be about Dipity to get the Dipity treatment. If I tell my wife that I'm feeling a little hoarse today, I hear a little "neigh" in the background. If I say I've been running around, I have a whirling dervish on my hands. I try hard not to duck or jump to conclusions, or at least not admit to either out loud.

Amazingly, Dipity's interpreting doesn't stop her from carrying out her kid duties. She'll knock out a neigh or spin around in a circle a few times and stumble to the ground, and then go right back to whatever she was doing. I've never seen a sign language interpreter on television knit a sweater or bake a pie while they were translating. I've also never seen one that helped cut through all the verbiage to the heart of the matter. And no little signing woman in the corner of my television screen has ever made me smile.

Maybe it's just closed, or open, captioning for the smiling impaired. It could be closed captioning perspective impaired. Whatever it is, it's happening in my house, and that much I understand.
A Message

I'm addicted to sports. I actually checked at the end of that last sentence. Before I'm done with this blog entry I am sure I will have been to again, or if I'm down to the articles on skiing and track and field, maybe I'll have checked into My addiction is so severe that I actually listen to sports-talk radio. In my defence, I didn't really start listening until after my radio stopped picking up any FM stations. But now, even if I could get NPR, I'm not certain I'd go with it.

Lately, though, I've been feeling guilty about listening to sports-talk radio. Usually when I am in the car, so is Dipity. I always start out singing to her, or asking her questions. I always end up listening to the radio. Now, it's not as if I pretend she's not in the car. I still engage her, and she does have about forty pounds of stuffed animals and books scattered about the car. But, I do force her to listen to some rather obnoxious and rather low-brow sports-radio personalities. I have been feeling more and more guilty about this, but had been unable to stop. And then I received some help.

Last week when I flipped on the radio to hear some talk about the playoffs, I got a breakdown of Revelations. My knuckle dragging sports radio had been replaced by fundamentalist Christian mumbo jumbo. At first I thought it was a joke. But, a week later it's no longer funny. I finally brought new CDs out to the car. My other choices included Spanish radio, republican mumbo jumbo, or static. If I didn't have a CD player I'd have gone with static. If I was more superstitious, or religious, I would have a hard time not thinking this was a sign from God. I think it's more likely a sign from Dr. Sears, although I don't believe in him either. I could say more, but I haven't checked the NBA scores yet.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Burp check

Tonight, after dinner, my wife asked me if I was still feeling burpy. Dipity was sitting on the couch. Upon hearing the word "burpy," which she clearly misinterpreted, she jumped off of the couch and came straight over to where I was lying on my back on the floor. She looked at me for a second, a big smile on her face, and then walked up between my legs and grabbed my crotch. Next she went over to my wife, and grabbed her crotch. Finally, she grabbed herself and said "poop." I haven't laughed that hard since last year. Dipity thought mom asked dad if he was poopy, and thus decided that all three of us needed a poop check. Earlier she grabbed herself and said poop, which she does every time she expels waste of any kind, and then rolled onto her back on the floor and began to try to unzip her jeans. Dipity may be ready for the toilet soon.

Our Christmas 'Ghee'

The undisputed highlight of this years Christmas was the 'ghee.' Now, it didn't have a ton of competition. We had a ... well ... an interesting Christmas. We Christmased on Cape Cod with the in-laws, which was nice, at least in theory. We all were feverish and throwing up for at least twenty-four hours, which wasn't so nice. Dipity got it first. My wife and I were next, and we received another gift simultaneously (our sewer system backed up, for the third time ... and this time the expensive fix came with the news that in the near future we'll have to have the pipes, which are pressed tar paper (!!!), replaced). My wife was in our room puking into a trash can while I was talking to the plumber out in the hallway. Merry Christmas!

Thankfully we had our family Christmas before the stomach bug hit. That actually was a pretty fun day. The actual Christmas came right after our illness. We thought about staying put, but that was pretty a pretty depressing thought, so weak, but no longer losing our cookies, we dragged ourselves to the airport. Turns out we dragged more than ourselves. Within two days of our arrival, my wife's parents and her brother were also throwing up. Luckily we were all well for Christmas.

Actually, it wasn't an awful time. It was just a little low energy, with the exception of Megan's brother who makes more noise while throwing up than I thought was possible. He screams into the toilet. We had a few nice walks on the beach, days of Dipity opening gifts, and, most importantly, a Christmas 'ghee.'

Christmas 2007 was all about the 'ghee.' Dipity liked driving past the lights at night. She said "oooh," and "wow" as we drove by. She also liked 'ohman.' We'll have to buy her a book or movie or something about Frosty the 'ohman' before next year. She never got into Santa. She was, however, all over the 'ghee.' It wasn't any particular 'ghee' that caught her fancy, it was every 'ghee,' whether real, artificial, cardboard, or painted on a lasagna pan. Our 'ghee' at home was locked in our family room, which kept the room smelling like Christmas and the tree safe from the cats. Of course, the cats weren't the real threat to the tree and everything on it. We were smart enough to place only ornaments we could stand to see used as a basketball within four feet of the concrete floor. This was good, because Dipity, like all toddlers and her father, looks with her hands. And there were just too many cool things on the tree: 'owmen,' an 'ouse,' several 'earts,' a 'baa baa,' and lots of 'bubs.' She would be out in the living room, and suddenly, remembering that the tree was in the family room, would sprint for the door yelling 'ghee.' It was pretty cool that she was so excited about it. For a month we had an easy and reliable way of bringing on a good mood.

This Saturday was the saddest day of the holiday season; it was the last day. The tree came down. Dipity was calm as the ornaments came down. She actually 'helped.' It was when I started to take the lights off the tree that the mood changed. She pointed at the electrical outlight where the lights had been plugged in and, in her best angst filled cry, belted out a series of 'ghees.' When I lifted the tree up in anticipation of moving it out ... well ... Initially I placed it in the back yard, but I had to move it out of sight. She was standing at the back door and saying, in a more subdued voice, "ghee." Actually, by this point it sounded a lot more like 'tee', or even 'treee.' It was sad. I suppose we should have taken it down when she was asleep, but that struck me as more traumatic. I'd hate to wake up and have something I loved just vanish.

Christmas didn't just vanish, though. We have rooms full of toys to let us know it was here. And more than one good story.

Monday, January 07, 2008

We were here for the holidays, so assorted travails aside, we have little to complain about. For more on what little we do have to complain about, and the rest of our holiday experience, tune in tomorrow.
Right now I have a bookcase to apply polyurethane to before Dipity wakes up, so see you all on Tuesday!