Tag Archives: Quinn

Crumbling Castles

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I play rough with my kids; really rough.  Horseplay, in my house, is not only accepted, it is encouraged.  I love sitting with them and reading books and cuddling up to tell them stories but one of my favorite things to do is to chase them through our home, tackle them, tickle them and then drag them kicking and screaming back to me as they try to escape my clutches.  I hang them upside down and howl.  I pin them to the ground and growl in their ears.  I crawl across the floor like a primitive man pretending to be a primitive horse, snarling and thrashing after them.  I pick up pillows and I throw them at their fleeing backs.  Hard.  I hit them behind their knees with said pillows as they run, knocking them to the floor.  Usually they’re fine but sometimes they bang their hands / arms / heads / faces against the ground.  This is the cost of horseplay.

They run and laugh and squeal and scream and hide and then beg me to keep chasing them.  If I get tired they slowly approach me and say, “Get… my… fooo-hooot….” and then they wiggle and waggle their ankle at me just out of reach.  It goes without saying that I’ve been kicked in the teeth and headbutted more than once.  Last month my son stuck his finger knuckle deep into my eyeball… twice.  That is not an exaggeration.  My eye was pink and blood shot and everything went fuzzy for several hours.  It was both painful and horrifying.  Sometimes I lie on my back and my daughter jumps off the couch and gives me two knees to my ribcage, causing me to spit out a harsh, “WHOOF!”  This is also the cost of horseplay.

My children love me and I love my children and we know that we are just playing and we’ve had many conversations about Good Hit / Bad Hit and how a Hi-5 is a Good Hit but slapping someone when you’re angry is a Bad Hit and… children just have a very interesting way of not only absorbing information and processing it but they’re also amazing at outputting certain… enlightenments, I guess is a good word… that hit you in the gut harder than their tiny fists.

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Two days ago my daughter walked past me and I stuck out my foot and tripped her.  She stumbled, once, twice, caught herself, turned around and gave me the stankiest eye I’ve ever seen.  It cracked me up.  I thought it was absolutely hilarious.  Further, I thought that SHE thought it was absolutely hilarious… which is why I do it whenever I get a chance.  I thought our little game was like, “I pick on you in an endearing way and you think it’s playful and funny and it’s our quirky little relationship,” but, my wife, who apparently doesn’t “get” the thing I do with the kids, she says to me, “You’re so mean to the kids,” and I say, “Mean?  Mean?  What is this, mean?  Oh, give me a break.  I’m not mean.  I love them and I’m playing with them!  They love to play!” and she says, “No.  You pick on them.  You’re That Guy,” and my stomach churns because, to me, there is no worse insult than being called That Guy.  It could mean any number of horrible things but, whenever someone says it, you know exactly which one they’re talking about.

I say, “I am not That Guy,” and my wife, refusing to back off her horrible, stupid opinion, says, “Yes you are.  And you’re hurting their feelings.”  Yeah, right.  Didn’t she see how I was laughing when my daughter stumbled?  Didn’t she see how funny that was?  I push myself off the couch and lie down on our floor, calling my daughter over to me, “Quinn!  Quinn… C’mere a sec…” and Quinn approaches me and I pick her up under her arms and lie her down on top of me, belly to belly so we’re eye to eye.  She doesn’t flinch and she doesn’t fight it and I say to my wife, “Yeah, she looks really afraid of me…

I turn to Quinn and I say, “Quinn…” and my three year old daughter says, “Yes, Daddy?” and I say, “Is Daddy mean to you?” and Quinn, without skipping a beat says, “Yes,” and I literally feel something in my heart pop and snap like a crusty bungee chord.  I want to put my daughter down and run away, hide in a closet, shut off the light and live the rest of my days in complete hermitude.  Quinn, unaffected, continues.  “You tease me… you tease me a lot,” and I just stare at her, into her eyes and I wish I had one of those weird whipping devices that the albino in The DaVinci Code had.  I need it.  I need to use it on myself.  I am a horrible person.

However, since I don’t have that archaic whipping device, I decide to torture myself by just pressing on.  I need to hear it.  I need to hear all of it.  I say, “Does Daddy hurt your feelings?” and my daughter, instead of saying anything, she just sticks out her bottom lip (NO!  NO!  NOT THE QUIVERING BOTTOM LIP!  GIVE ME THE WHIP-THING!  NOT THE LIP!  NOT THE LIP!) and she just nods, her eyes wide and sad and… they’re just so… SAD!

I gulp hard and try to decide how much I hate myself right now.  Is it like an 8 or a 9?

My daughter, apparently recognizing my weakness, decides to deliver the coup de grace with the most despondent phrase I have ever heard a three year old utter.  She says to me, “You hurt me.  You hurt my feelings.  I take my feelings…” and then she reaches up and pretends to pluck something out of her hair before shoving it behind her back, “…and I hide them away.  I hide my feelings away from you.”

No, no, no, no, no, no, no!!!!!!!!!

I feel like I’m going to puke and then pass out.  This vision and view of the world I had in front of me is crumbling and blowing away before me like a castle made of stale bread.  I grab her gently by the shoulders as my eyes begin to fill up with tears of remorse and stupidity and selfishness and I say, “Quinnie, Daddy is so sorry.  Daddy is so sorry for hurting you,” and she looks at me and then says, “Ohhhh-Kaaaaay,” and just like that, I am forgiven.

Kids are incredible.  What a lesson in humanity this three old just schooled me with.  “Hey, Dad!  KNOWLEDGE BOMB!”  KER-BOOOOOM!

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My daughter gets up and scurries away, leaving me feeling broken and alone.  I call my son over, deciding to get all the dirty work out of the way at once.  If I’m going to be emotionally flogged, let’s just be sure to break me completely…

“Rory… hey, Roar.  C’mere a sec…”  My son approaches me and flops down onto my chest, knocking the wind out of me.  He laughs and pretends to bite my chin.  “Yaaaahhhhsssss?” he says in some weird Southern drawl and, like tearing off a Band-Aid, I respond quickly with, “Is Daddy mean to you?” and, in matched speed he answers with, “Nope!” and I say, “Are you sure?” and he says, “You’re not mean, Daddy!” and I say, “Do I hurt your feelings?” and he says, “NO!  You don’t hurt my feelings!” and there is a little wash of relief that pours over me.

Good, good, good, good, good…

I say, “Okay.  Thanks, buddy.  I love you.  Go play,” and I stand him up before  shutting my eyes to recount this revelation as he begins to walk away but… too soon.  He doubles back while I’m not paying attention and drops both knees into my abdomen, his laughter the only sound breaking through my pain.

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It’s just another reminder that, no matter how many parenting books you read, seminars you attend or videos you watch, there is no right way to raise children because each and every child is so completely and stupendously different.  Just because you have two children (and this goes double for twins) doesn’t mean that you have two of the same child.  They are people, like you and I, each with their own sets of bends and interests.  Each has their own sets of needs and desires and wants and what hurts the feelings of one may actually be the fuel that powers the second.

My children never fail; they are unceasingly unapologetic in their quest to build me into a better man, father and human.  They constantly remind me how far I’ve come but are sure to keep me humble by reminding me how far I have yet to go.

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GLIMPSE: Rory & Quinn

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I sit in restaurants, at booths, looking at the patrons around me and I can’t help but wonder what conversations are happening at their tables. I walk through the mall and I see the people passing me and I wonder what they’re buying and why. Maybe it’s a gift for a boyfriend… and then I wonder how their relationship is going. I sit on the freeway, stuck in rush hour traffic and I watch individuals all around me driving from Santa Monica to Hollywood to Van Nuys. I watch cars merge onto the freeway, swerve and exit. I watch car accidents and I watch people text and drive, wondering who they’re speaking with.  I walk to the grocery store and I look through open windows that I pass on the sidewalk; a woman making dinner, a couple watching Law and Order re-runs, a man playing guitar…

The mundane fascinates me.  The minutia.  The moment-by-moment of everyday life.  I watch and I wonder what they’re doing and where they’re going and I wish, often times, that I could sit next to them; listen, watch, observe… follow them and… confession time; on several occasions I actually have. Twice I’ve followed a car for well over 15 miles just to see where they ended up. It was completely out of my way but I had nowhere to be so I just turned on some music and… this is actually sounding significantly creepier than it did when I chose to do it.  When it was happening, I assure you it was all very organic and natural and… innocent?  Is that the right word?  Probably not.

If I were ever granted the power of invisibility I wouldn’t go into the girl’s locker room or rob a bank… I’d just follow people around at the grocery store or sit in the passenger seat of their car and I’d listen to their conversations and I’d smile and, well, be creepy and invisible.

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Some fifteen years ago The Real World on MTV tried giving us a glimpse into what this was like. They tried to be the fly on the wall and they tried to let the average joe see what it was like to be an average joe.  The only problem was this… reality TV is not reality TV. It’s not reality. It’s not real. It’s moments that have been fabricated first by a producer and then manufactured by an editor using music, sound effects and specific sound bites from interviews taken out of context.

As an editor that has spent a little time in reality television, I can tell you with complete honesty that my favorite part of the job has never been viewing the final “designed” product but rather in sitting in my edit bay and watching the raw footage play out. I have spent literally hours watching strangers sit around a dinner table and chat or families getting prepared for their day by brushing their teeth and talking and just spending intimate moments together. All of these interesting and unique human moments are forever chopped up, cut into garbage and destroyed. You’ll never see them but… it’s all I want to watch. It’s all I want to see. I want to see TRUE REALITY TV. I want to sit as a fly on the wall and watch an evening in someone’s life. I want to walk in their shoes, see through their eyes, exist as they do for a few hours.

Keeping up with the Johnson’s? I want to keep up with the Kirkman’s, the Brady’s, the Morgan’s and the Chu’s. I want to know what four hours in the life of a man with triplets is like or a Seattle DJ or an internet spokesman. What does their work look like? Their commute? Their home life?

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I want to see this… so I’ve created, what I would consider as a pilot episode to this experimental project. It’s currently (appropriately) called “GLIMPSE” because it is, by definition, just a little peek, and the first episode is about my two oldest children. I’ve chosen to follow them from the moment they awake from their naps around 4:30pm until they go to sleep around 8:30pm.  The footage is completely unedited and plays out in real time save for a few spots where my camera’s memory card fills up and I had to switch it out.

I’d love for people to be able to turn on an episode of GLIMPSE and just play it in the background. Watch one minute or five minutes or 1 hour or 4 hours. Watch the beginning, skip the middle and watch the end. Watch only the middle. Skip around. It makes no difference. Just… catch a glimpse. See a moment. Experience life through the eyes of someone else.

This is episode 1. GLIMPSE: Rory & Quinn.

Enjoy.

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KID COUNTDOWN: DAY 9

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I open the fridge and Rory squeezes between myself and the food, points and shouts, “Eggs!  I want eggs!  Dad, I want eggs for breakfast!” in such a frenzy that I wonder if his mother has been feeding him.  “Uh, yeah.  Eggs sound great.”  I pull out the eggs, the cheese, the jelly, the butter and some frozen meat that I throw in a bowl with warm water to try and thaw out.

Behind me, Quinn walks into the room dragging a doll in one hand and a medical briefcase filled with toy hospital supplies in the other.  She shouts “Baby’s hungry!” and I assume that she is talking about her cabbage patch and not herself in third person… but one never can tell…

I ask her if she wants eggs and she suggests cookies and I say, “How about eggs?” and she says, “Noooooo!  SEEER-EEEE-AAALL!  I want cereal, Daaaaaad!” and I say, “….you want…..eggs then?” and she goes to the cabinet and pulls out some generic brand chocolate cereal.  I stare at the bag and wonder why I’m fine giving her this but battle the cookie.  I make a mental note to purchase something made strictly of bran next time I’m at the store… something with less flavor.

Jade gets down a bowl, pours the cereal, pours the milk and Rory says, “I want cereal!” and I say, “You want eggs,” and he says, “NO!  Cereal!” and I say, “Should I make enough for both of us?  Are you going to eat cereal and eggs?” and he gets really sad, like I’m calling him fat and just stares at the table.  I say, “Rory… you can have both, I just need to know how much to make.  Do you want cereal and eggs?” and he says, “Yes.  I want cereal-” and then he stands up and shouts, “-AND EGGS!”

In a moment of pure inspiration, I fold a piece of bread in half, bite out the center, butter the edges, drop it in the pan and crack an egg into the hole; ah yes, a One Eyed Joe.  I chop up the meat, fry an onion, toss some cheese on the Joe, make some coffee, flop it all onto a plate, jelly the toast / egg concoction, do it a second time and then sit down next to Rory, who’s just finishing his cereal.

“Bone Ape-tit,” I say and chuckle, remembering the popular SNL Jeopardy sketch.  I hand him a fork and ask if he wants me to cut it up but he says, “No,” very adamantly.  I say, “Okay,” and wait for him to change his mind.  He stares at the jellied bread, pokes it once with his fork and says, “I don’t want the egg.  Take the egg out,” and I say, “Too late, pal.  The egg is hiding inside and it is (take a bite) delicious.”

He shoves the fork at me and says, “Cut it, please,” and I do.

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ABOVE: “And this alleged “missing cookie” was what color, you say?”

As Quinn nears the end of her cereal – she’s a considerably slower eater because she stops every few bites to dance (whether there is music playing or not) – I begin feeding her bites of fried onion and sausage until my plate is scraped clean.  “Dad,” she says, “Dad… I want more.  I want more eggs.  I want… One Eye Joke,” and I laugh at her mispronunciation and say, “It’s all gone.  Daddy ate it all… but you could ask Rory for some of his.”

Quinn stares at Rory, realizing her fate rests in the hands of The Monster with Many Mouths and says, “Roar…” and he sticks a chunk of food in his mouth.  “Roar, will you share?” and he sticks another chunk of food in his already full mouth.  I say, “Rory, do you want to give Quinn a bite?” and, instead of responding, he just slams his fork into a chunk of toast covered in egg, picks it up, exams it, places it back on the plate and rubs it around in jelly, having decided that it wasn’t quite up to his standards and then he lifts the fork and……. hands it to Quinn.  With a full mouth, crumbs and debris falling from his slavering maw he says, “Hee yu oh, Quee,” and she takes a big bite and says, “Tank, Roy.”

I give Rory a squeeze and I kiss his ear and I whisper, “That’s such a good boy!  Thanks for sharing!  You’re such a good sharer!  Where’d you learn to do that?  You’re so good!” and then he shoves another glob into his mouth and says, “Roy eaddin goo,” and I translate this as, “Rory eating good,” something else that we regularly applaud them for.  “That’s right!  That’s right!  You are eating good!  Eating good and sharing!  You’re a good boy!  You’re a good brother!” and then he sticks his fork back into the toast and gives Quinn another bite, back and forth, back and forth until the plate is empty and then they both go outside and play while I do dishes.

Mr. Mom.

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ABOVE: ME TRYING TO CONVINCE RORY THAT BEETS CAN’T BE BEAT!

At lunch my wife leaves to visit a friend in Burbank for the afternoon, which means I’m on kid duty solo; a daunting task for someone less experienced but I find that if I just put some frozen peanut butter in the dog’s Kong shell and toss it out in the dirt, they pretty much entertain themselves for an hour or two.

Quinn walks up to me and says, “I need a kiss, I’m going to work,” and I lean down and kiss her and say, “Gonna bring home some bacon?” and she says, “YEP!” and walks over to the jammed baby gate, blocking her from leaving the house and says, “Can you open the door for me, please?”

I laugh and suddenly my internal clock – which is typically wrong – starts telling me that 1pm (nap time) is approaching and I need to get on making lunch.  I grab my phone, flip it on and see that it’s already 1:30…. and I still have to feed them…. and make the food… and they’re not going to be in bed until 2…. oh, dear.

Ah, well!  It’s not everyday that…. I don’t know.  I try to make a reasonable excuse for how behind schedule I am but nothing comes to my mind.  Instead I just mumble something to myself about how play time is educational and then I watch as Rory tries running down the slide, trips, stumbles, falls, hits the grass and does a somersault.  He lays there for a moment before standing up and holding his head, checking for blood.

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I say, “Let’s eat!” and the kids come inside where I start making mac and cheese – that staple of youths and poor people the world over.

As we wait for the water to boil, I pull out my amplifier, plug in my guitar and let Rory strum on it for a bit but he keeps saying, “Too loud,” and turning the knob down, down, down, down, until it’s off and there’s just the natural acoustic noises resonating from the body.  I try to explain the point of the amplifier to him but he seems more intent on just strumming.  Quinn, meanwhile stands in the corner shouting, “Spider!  Spider!  Daddy!  A SPIDER!!” and I keep saying, “Don’t worry about it!” and then Rory has found a giant boot and is putting it on, presumably to smash it.  He stands by Quinn and she points and Rory doesn’t see anything so he gets down on his hands and knees and begins to investigate.

Fearing for them finding a black widow or brown recluse, I put down the guitar and kneel down beside them.  “Where?” and Rory says, “Under mom’s shoe!” and Quinn says, “Under the floor!” and I look around, turn up nothing and walk away.

The noodles are ready, the powdered and processed cheese is dropped in along with milk, butter, salt, pepper and love.  I pour one-third into a small plastic purple bowl for Quinn and one-third into a small plastic yellow bowl for Rory and, because I hate washing dishes, I just eat my portion out of the the pan.

I sit down next to Rory, who hammers through his lunch so fast that I have to wonder if he did hard time in his past life.  He turns to me and says, “MORE MAC AND CHEEEEESE, PLEEEEEZE!” and I say, “Listen… I appreciate you saying ‘please’… but there is no more mac and cheese,” and he drops his fork and wails and says, “NOOOOO!  I want more Mac. And. Cheese! and I say, “I’m sorry, but that’s all we made.  I’m going to clean up now,” and as I carry his bowl away from him, I see Quinn standing on the bench and swaying slowly to no music playing anywhere and say, “Hey, Rory… maybe you could ask Quinn to share a couple bites with you,” and I see her open her eyes, filled with panic, and I say, “… since you gave her all those yummy breakfast bites this morning.”

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This statement has a strange effect on Quinn.  She sighs and sits down and says, “Here, Roar!  You want some mac and cheese?!” and he walks over to her and she feeds him a bite and then another, and then another, back and forth, back and forth, back and forth until their lunch is gone.

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KID COUNTDOWN, DAY 14

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In 14 days, my wife and I will be experiencing a major shift in our family.  A major shift.  Tectonic-Plates-Glacial-Sliding-Landslide type shift.

We’re having a child.

And not just A child, but our THIRD child, which means two things.  First and foremost, it means that we are socially irresponsible by having created more people than will replace us when we “pass“.  BUT… in my defense…you should see the “next generation” of kids growing up around my block.  Trust me when I say that my over population is nothing more than my most desperate and valiant effort to help the human race not dip into The Darkest Abyss.

Secondly, and more importantly, it means that my wife and I are now outnumbered in our own home.  The child-to-parent ratio is all screwed up and there could, for all intents and purposes, be some sort of uprising; an overthrow of government if you will; a Coup.  I’ve read Treasure Island, I’ve read Mutiny on the Bounty, I know how these things work!

I’ve got my eye on you Little Baby Boy or Girl… Papa will be watching you from Day 1…

Now, backstory out of the way, I’d like you to take a journey with me.  For the next 14 days, I’m going to document the final two weeks leading up to The Great Shift.  We are, as most parents are, eternally thankful for our Little Nugget and excited to see if she actually ends up being a she or if he ends up coming out male-wise.  In any event, there is an element of bittersweet aroma in the air because, as all parents know, there is a family dynamic that is in play and whenever you add something to it, the previous dynamic is lost forever and a new one takes its place.  We currently have a set of twins that are, obviously, the same age and we have routines and inside jokes with them (and about them) and we have those quiet, special family moments and those public outings and adventures and these things won’t be gone, but our dynamic, our Everyday that we’ve gotten used to over the last two years, will be transformed.

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ABOVE: RORY (LEFT) and QUINN (RIGHT).

I had this really fantastic couch in college.  I bought it at a Goodwill and paid eleven bucks for it.  I loved that couch and, often times I actually just slept on it.  I even named it.  Couchy.  It stayed with me in the dorms, into my first apartment and then into the duplex my wife and I eventually moved into and then into the first house we rented.  It was well worn and soft and I knew just what to expect.  But one day we had to buy a new couch and we took ‘ol Couchy and set it out on the curb and a garbage truck came and stuck two giant steel poles through it’s back, lifted it into the air and then slowly lowered it into a series of spinning blades that spit stray wood chips out into the street, leaving me behind with only my memories and tears and this awful final image.

The new baby is sort of like that… only without the spinning blades and steel spikes and tears.

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ABOVE: COUCHY BEFORE HE WAS TURNED INTO TOOTHPICKS, A YOUNGER VERSION OF BOTH JADE AND MYSELF AND A LIVING VERSION OF MY DOG.

Let’s get started, shall we?

DAY 14

This morning I was awakened by a loud banging on my bedroom door.  The handle jiggles and I blurt out some incoherent sentence about grapefruits that I’m sure made sense to whatever dream I was having.  The door knob wiggles again and I hear someone shout at me, “Hey!  Hey!  Door’s locked!” and I say, “I know.  I did that to keep people out,” and then I twist the knob and standing there is my son, Rory and my daughter Quinn, both of them holding onto their favorite blankets.  I don’t want to call them security blankets because, well, there’s really nothing secure about them; in the event of a fire, you can’t crawl under them.  In fact, they’re stuffed with cotton so they’d probably be the first thing to just go up like a magician’s flash paper.  POOF!

Quinn shouts, with an energy that should be outlawed at 7:15 in the morning, “I’m ah-WAAAKE!” and then Rory echoes her with, “Mornin’!”  He has this built in drawl that he throws into that word and that word alone so that he sounds like a legitimate cowboy of yesteryear.  I imagine him tipping his hat to me and rolling a piece of wheat in his teeth as I flop back into bed and cover myself up, hoping that they’ll just crawl in behind me and go back to sleep but instead Quinn puts her foot on my cheek and says, “Daddy, I want to snuggle,” and I understand that this is less of a request and more of a threat.

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ABOVE: WHATEVER YOU DO, DON’T LOOK INTO HIS EYES…. I SAID DON’T DO IT!

I pull the blankets back and she crawls under the covers and I shut my eyes and think, “I’ve done it!” but then Quinn is poking my eyelids and laughing and saying, “Daaa-dee,” and I say, “Whaaaaat?” and she says, “Daaaa-deeee?” and I say, “I’m sleeeeeeping,” and she says, “No, you’re not.”

Rory begins jumping on the end of the bed and screaming and then he’s dropping onto his knees and landing on my shins and I’m saying to him, “Uck – ouch – eek – oh,” and he’s laughing and I’m wondering if anyone has ever considered building a sort of king sized coffin that adults can sleep in; something with a lid…

I roll over and grab my book from the nightstand, a copy of Big Sur by Jack Kerouac and try to read a few pages in order to transition into the day.  “Oh, we readin’?” Quinn asks me and takes a look inside my book.  No pictures.  She jumps off the bed, runs into the living room and returns with a small handful from her own private library, wherein she crawls next to me, props herself up on a pillow and begins to examine each page with such silent intensity that I’m positive that she is legitimately reading.  Time passes, pages turn, Jade makes a couple pig-ish snoring noises and Rory shoves a toy cow in my face and says, “THAT’S A PIG!” and I say, “That’s not a pig,” and he says, “THAT’S A COW!” and then he arranges each of his animals onto one corner of the night table and doesn’t touch them again.  He’s a very meticulous little boy, similar both to my sister Theresa and my brother-in-law, Jordan, a man who used to iron his money when he was younger.

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ABOVE: THE FORCE…. OF OCD… IS STRONG IN THIS ONE…

I grab my phone to check the time and realize… “Dang, it’s just after 10am.”  At some point in the last three hours when I thought I wasn’t sleeping, I must have dozed off and the kids just laid there (lied there??) and we all slept in until late and, now that I think about it, I do feel pretty refreshed.

Jade sits up and says, “Should we eat french toast for breakfast?” and my kids love french toast (who doesn’t?) and so they scream and say, “YES!  FRENCH TOAST!” and then they’re gone and then my wife is gone and I’m left lying in bed with my book, thinking about standing up.  I look over at the empty bassonet we have in the room and I realize that soon…..

…soon the idea of sleeping in until 10am will be a luxury reserved for bachelors, rich people and the homeless.

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