EVENT 1 – BOY
For our kids’ breakfast we’ve been trying to do that whole “Eat Fruits and Vegetables and Organic Things” deal. Yes, sometimes it’s obnoxious and sometimes it’s difficult and sometimes I DO just want to throw Lucky Charms down in front of them and yes, sometimes I actually DO just throw Lucky Charms down in front of them and YES, they, of course, love them. Who wouldn’t? It’s literally sugar on sugar. You’re literally eating candy for breakfast.
On this particular morning, I’m three fistfuls deep into Lucky Charms while feeding Rory and that’s on top of the two bananas, the container of blueberries, the four glasses of juice, the two organic, hormone free, pasture raised maple cured turkey patties and the tortilla that I’ve already given him. I am running out of food.
He throws his cup out, holding it in both hands like Oliver Twist and says, “Jooz Peez!” (Juice, please!), so I go to the fridge, open it up and rummage around for a bottle of vitamin water and, while I’m looking, happen to notice a single bar of string cheese. I pour him his juice just as he’s shoving the last of the whole wheat (because it’s better than enriched flour) tortilla into his mouth when he slaps his bowl towards me (gently) and makes a grunting sound which, I’ve come to realize, means something along the lines of, “Fool! Why my dish empty!? I’m a MAN and a MAN has to FEED! BRING ME THE NEXT COURSE!”
The first thing I ask myself is WWJD… What Would Jade Do? The answer… does not come to me. I look in the fruit bowl only to discover that he’s eaten all the fruit. FRUIT HOG! I look in the cabinets hoping to find an easy fix. Nope; mac and cheese for breakfast? I don’t think so. I rip open the freezer; that was the last of the turkey patties. We’ve got ice cream… but what would I say if Jade asked what I fed the kids? The only honest answer that might slide without being considered a “lie” would be “dairy”. In short, no. I open the fridge and start shoving stuff aside. Old tapioca… moldy vegetable soup… old salmon… crusty steak… brown and soggy carrots. DANGIT! WHY ARE WE DISGUSTING!!??
I come back over to the island, just hoping that maybe he’s simply forgotten that he’s hun– “GRUNT! GRUNT!” (WHERE MY FOOD, FOOL?!). I run back to the fridge, pretending like I’m preparing something, trying my best to fake it, hoping beyond hope that he won’t notice that I’m just stalling for time. Maybe I could order a pizza! A breakfast pizza! No! That’s stupid! You’re stupid! Why are you so stupid?!
Pizza > Cheese > String Cheese.
I say it out loud. “Roar, buddy! You want some string cheese?!” and he goes, “CHEEZ! CHEEZ! CHEEZ!” Because, understandably, he loves cheese.
I open the fridge and go to grab… where’s it at? It’s gone! It. Is. Gone. I rummage for a bit before beginning to legitimately question myself. Did you actually see the cheese? Are you sure you saw the cheese? Are you grasping at straws? A hallucination? I search EVERYWHERE, “CHEEZ. CHEEZ. CHEEZ.”
I imagined the cheese. I can’t believe this. I imagined string cheese. I accept my fate. “Cheez. Cheez. Cheez”. He’s like a mouse. He’s just locked onto cheese and I’m about to break his spirit. Things are about to go from bad to worse. I try to imagine what he’ll do to me when I tell him the kitchen was out of string cheese. Surely he’ll have me flayed…or worse. I start to shut the fridge and… just before it’s closed… I see the yellow band hiding behind the milk. My heart leaps. My muscles relax, and I collapse onto the ground in a pile of tangible relief.
I rip the cheese open, saying a little prayer for how grateful I am of this dairy harvest, tear it in half and hand each piece to each kid. My daughter begins to slowly taste and nibble, taking her time.
My son shoves the entire half stick of cheese in his mouth and starts chewing furiously and then, before he’s even swallowed he taps his bowl towards me and begins grunting again.
EVENT 2 – GIRL
Tonight I gave my daughter a beer. Two beers actually.
Well, sort of…
We celebrated my birthday party last night and this evening we were outside cleaning up The Aftermath; pulling streamers down from trees, picking up trash, putting chairs away, etc. etc. etc. It’s too hot to cook and, honestly, I’d been on a shoot all day and Jade was just coming down from being sick so we decided to just go grab some Panda Express, a restaurant that I believe just doesn’t get enough street cred.
Jade volunteers to “cook” ie, go pick up food while I stay and put in some valuable one on two time with the kids. The two of them wander about in the backyard, finding pieces of chalk, “CHOCK!” and scribbling on the cement. They push themselves around on the tricycle and they even pick up trash and throw it in the trash can… a few times they even pick up things that weren’t trash and threw it in the trash can.
I went to the “These are Things We’re Going to Keep and is not Garbage” table and started loading up left over beers into my arms. I tuck a couple under my bicep (a term I use very loosely), I tuck a few under my forearm, pressing them against my body. I grab a few in my left hand and I grab a few in my right hand. The honest truth is that I am carrying far more beer than I should be carrying. I can not function carrying this much stuff. Thank goodness I left the baby gate leading to the kitchen open otherwise I’d really be– why is the baby gate closed?
Oh… Quinn is in the kitchen and she’s closed the baby gate. Quinn has locked herself in the kitchen. Now here I am holding twenty-seven beers in my bare hands and balancing them on my head and I can’t, for the life of me, get into my house without unloading. At first I begin to attempt the ol’ “Just Shift Everything Awkwardly to your Left (weaker) Hand and Open it with your Right” Trick… but it immediately becomes clear that it’s not going to work.
Meanwhile, my daughter walks up to the gate and stares up at me like a groundhog looking for it’s shadow and, just like that, I know what I need to do. You sometimes forget that they’re capable people. They understand and they want to help you. They want your approval.
I reach over the gate, stretch out my right hand, which is holding three beers, and say, “You wanna take these for Daddy?”… and she does. Just like that. She just reaches up and takes them and I open the gate with my now free hand and walk inside, easy-peezy, mac and cheesy. I set all my beers on the counter and turn around just as she’s slowly and ever so gently setting the bottles down on the floor because she knows that they’re fragile because Daddy said, “Be careful“.
I pick them up and I say, “Thank you! Thank you so much for helping Daddy! That was a BIG HELP!” and she is very proud of herself for that but probably not half as proud as I am… and it’s not simply the listening and the doing and the working together and the gentleness. That’s all fantastic and wonderful and adorable in it’s own way but… I look at her and I go, “The child that I have thought of my entire life… whenever I’ve said, ‘when I have kids'”… that is you and here you are, right now. This moment was 30 years in the making.
And then I suddenly see my life and… wait a minute… I’m married and I just turned thirty and I’ve got two kids that are almost two years old and I’ve got two dogs and insurance and I realize… getting old isn’t so bad. My existence is pretty cush.
Jade comes home and we all eat “Chinese” food together.