Forty-Five minutes of life with Wildling

The Scene: Breakfast table. Wildling is eating a bowl of Oaty Bites and milk.  She is wearing a long-sleeved swimsuit (because what else would a child wear to breakfast?).

The Catastrophe: Some milk spills from the bowl and onto the table.  Wildling fears it might get on her swimsuit.  She decides to remove the swimsuit.

The Second Catastrophe: It takes too long to pull her arm out of her left sleeve.  She panics.

The  Solution:  Mama helps remove the sleeve from Wildling’s arm.  Foolishly, Mama walks away.

Timeline of the Tantrum:

Minute One: Wildling has begun to cry and flap her right arm around, because it is still in a sleeve.

Minute Two: Wildling becomes increasingly desperate. She seems to think that waving her arm and shrieking will magically remove the sleeve.

Minutes Three through Five: Wildling cries and waves her arm.  “Mama! Mama!”  Mama replies “Use your words, Wildling. What do you need help with?”

Minutes Five through Ten: Wildling sobs hysterically and waves her arm in the air.  She continues to cry for help, but will not state why she needs help.  Mama reminds her that she has to stop crying and ask for what she wants.

Minute Eleven: Mama gives up and carries Mellow into the playroom.

Minute Twelve: Wildling notices Mama is no longer four feet away.  Her shrieks become ear-piercing.  She enters the playroom and throws herself down two feet from her baby sister.

Minutes Thirteen through Twenty: Wildling cries hysterically.  “Help me! Help me!  Mommy, Daddy, help me!!!”  Mama asks when Wildling started calling Papa ‘Daddy’ and points out that he isn’t here.  Wildling pauses in her fit to glare at Mama, then returns to “Mama, Papa, help me!”

Minute Twenty-One: Wildling falls silent.

Minute Twenty-Two: Mama asks “Wildling, are you ready to use your words now and ask for what you want?”

Minute Twenty-Three: Wildling says “No!” and begins her desparate sobbing again, all the while waving her right arm in it’s sleeve.

Minutes Twenty-Four through Twenty-Seven: Hysterical sobbing.

Minutes Twenty-Eight through Thirty: An exact repeat of Minutes Twenty-One through Twenty-Three.

Minute Thirty: Mama says “Wildling, I’m tired of listening to this. Let me know when you’re done crying,” and leaves the room.  Wildling screams “No!!! Don’t leave me alone!” and tries to follow.

Minutes Thirty-One through Thirty-Five: Mama holds the door shut while Wildling screams on the other side.  Mama briefly wonders if the neighbors have called the police yet, but decides that since this is approximately the thousandth fit like this, if they haven’t called the police already, they probably won’t.  Plus the neighbors on the west side moved out last month.

Minute Thirty Six: Wildling gives up and moves away from the door, but is still crying very very loudly.  Mama goes into the living room and begins reading a book to Mellow.

Minutes Thirty-Seven through Forty-Three: Wildling cries.

Minute Forty-Four: Wildling opens the door and comes near the living room.  She realizes that Mama is reading her sister one of her books.  She chokes off a last sob.

Minute Forty-Five: Wildling realizes that she can, by holding the wrist, remove her arm from her sleeve herself.  She does so, wipes her eyes, and walks over to the couch and announces “I want to read the book too.  I’m going to sit here now.”

End Scene.

 

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Random anti-soda rant

I get tired of hearing people talk about the ‘mommy wars’ as though moms aren’t too busy to waste their time on crap like that.  Guess what? Most of us are.  I don’t care how you raise your kid, how many hours you work, whether you breast or bottle feed, or anything like that.  I do care, from an environmental standpoint, if you cloth diaper or not, but I’m not going to say anything about it.  Not my kids, not my problem.

Except there is one thing about how others raise their children that does bother me: soda.  Seriously, your toddler doesn’t need a coke, ever.  Soda should be an occasional treat for a grown up or much older child.  Nobody should drink soda daily, and I don’t think kids should have one ever.  A few weeks ago at the San Diego Zoo, I saw a young kid, maybe eight years old, and his height and diameter were pretty much the same.  He was huffing and puffing and complaining his way up on of the hills there, with a giant soda in his hand.  No kid with functioning legs and lungs and a heart should be struggling like that to make it up a hill.  Even Wildling could do it, and she is three (though admittedly she was crying the whole time because she was hungry and her legs were tired and we needed to take Mellow out of the stroller so she could ride in it instead of on the running board).  But this kid couldn’t, and I could tell from looking at him that the soda wasn’t just an occasional treat for him, it was a staple part of his diet.  So, yes, I judge his parents.  Both of them, not just his mother, so maybe this doesn’t count as ‘mommy wars.’

I’ve never been a big soda drinker myself.  An occasional rum and coke at the bar, but that’s it, and I haven’t had one in a long time.  When Will and I first started dating, he drank soda, but he gave it up so long ago that I can’t even remember what kind he liked.  I recently read the book Sugar Fat Salt by Michael Moss.  While before I didn’t really care for soda, after reading that book, I’m actually kind of opposed to soda in general.  It’s bad for your body, it’s bad for your mind, it’s bad for everything, plus there is no real reason to consume it.  Soda is never he answer. Thirsty? Drink water. Hungry? Eat food. Feel like rotting your teeth out with empty calories? Ok, maybe soda is the answer to that one.

 

 

 

Fear of flying

Funny thing about fears: I can have them, but I will judge others for having the same ones.

Here’s an example: I am afraid of flying, or, more specifically dying horribly in a plane crash as my life flashes before my eyes and my last thoughts other than of burning pain are wishing I could go back in time and book a different flight.  That’s my fear.  I know statistically that my chances of dying in a plane crash are infinitesimal, and my chances of dying in a car crash are much higher.  I understand that on an intellectual level, but on a visceral level my body and mind tell me I am risking my life even considering getting near a plane, much less on one.

But when someone else says they’re afraid of flying? Ha. I roll my eyes at their stupidity.  Technology is amazing, there are so many ways that flying is made safe.  So many checks of the plane itself, so many pilot regulations.  So many ways to ensure that a plane makes it from Point A to Point B with no casualties.  Why would you be afraid of that?  My sister-in-law is afraid to fly, so she doesn’t do it.  I think that’s dumb.  I complain about it to others.  Yet I come up with all kinds of excuses to avoid flying myself.

This isn’t to say I’ve never flown.  I have, lots of times.  I’ve traveled all over the world.  But I’ve also mentally written my own obituary lots of times, too.  Every time I fly, I write it in my head.  I also obsessively wonder about the other planes going to my destination: Will a later flight crash? What about an earlier one? Did I narrowly avoid death by choosing the 3:15 flight instead of the 6:15?  Once, Will and I were bumped from a flight and had to stay an extra day on a trip.  I spent the four hours after we were bumped wondering if the flight we should have been on would crash, and if I would be interviewed in articles about the crash as ‘the woman who was supposed to have been on that plane.’  Then, when it didn’t crash, I spent the night before our replacement flight wondering if my obituary would mention that I ‘wasn’t even supposed to be on that plane.’

 

Wildling finds a rock

My father has been recovering from cancer lately, which has reduced his energy levels and kept him in the house.  Because of that, he decided it was time to sort through and get rid of the massive amount of crap my parents had in the storage room.  In doing so, he realized they had a lot of stuff belonging to my brothers and myself, and decided they weren’t storing anything for their adult children anymore.

Here’s the problem I have with that: I didn’t realize they were keeping anything for me.  I moved out almost twenty years ago to start college.  During my four undergraduate years, I went back for a few weeks each winter break, and maybe a month or so in the summers.  After I graduated, I spent a month at their house before loading up a u-haul with everything I owned (or everything I thought I owned) and moved across the country, permanently.  I have not lived within a thousand miles of them since 2000.  If there was anything left behind in my old bedroom, it wasn’t stuff I wanted or cared about. It was junk.  It was stuff that I thought was donated or disposed of fourteen years ago.

Now imagine my surprise when FedEx boxes with my dad’s handwriting on them started showing up at my door.  At first I was confused as to why I was getting packages at all, and then, when I opened them, I was confused as to why my parents were sending me boxes of junk.

As an example, one box contained some old plastic puzzles (that they had given me in high school; I put them together once and promptly forgot they existed), a broken figurine (that I thought had been donated to charity, along with the rest of the figurines that arrived in a later box), a broken candle (what? really?) and a stack of comic books that very clearly belonged to my brother Jack (who told me to recycle them when I threatened to ship them to him).

There was a feather collection that I had assembled out of spite (really, mom? Tell your eight-year-old not to pick up dirty feathers? Now it’s my favorite hobby and I’m going to pick up all the dirty feathers).  A sweater that probably looked pretty good in the late nineties, and is surprisingly too big for me now.  My middle school letterman’s jacket, that astonishingly still fit.  A t-shirt from a forgotten math competition that took place in 1987 (and is now a night shirt for Wildling, though it’s too big).  A bunch of keychains.  Receipts from a high school spring break trip to Cancun.  A small jewelry box containing bits of what I guess is broken glass.

I asked my parents why they bothered sending me all this crap, when clearly I did not want it and had no use for it.  My father explained that it was mine, and it was up to me to throw it away, not him.  My mother told me I had to have that stuff, that it was necessary for a walk down memory lane.  I disagree with them both, but I’ve never won an argument with those people, even when the argument is over what day of the week it is, or whether my husband is obsessed with caramel chocolates (he’s not, I swear, he swears too, but they will.not.believe.us.EVER!).

Out of all the stuff in the boxes that briefly passed their way through our house on the way to the thrift store, only two items have mattered and produced any form of enjoyment.  Funny thing though, I don’t actually remember them from my childhood, and I wonder if they might have been Jack’s.  The items were two rocks, about the size of fists, each with a dinosaur drawn on them in blue marker.  One was a triceratops skeleton, the other just the triceratops skull and front legs.  I didn’t draw them, or at least, I don’t think I did.  I loved drawing as a kid and wanted to be an artist, but I was never very good.  I don’t think I had the skill to draw these (not that they were very good, they were clearly done by a child), but Jack probably did.  He was never into dinosaurs, though.  Dinosaurs were always my thing.  Maybe he drew them for me?  It’s a lost memory.

When I pulled these rocks out of the box, my first thought was ‘Seriously? Shipping rocks? Good thing this is a flat rate box!’  And when I didn’t even recognize them as mine, I wondered what the hell I was supposed to do with them.  Rocks aren’t exactly the kind of thing you can just donate to a thrift store.  But then I decided to just throw them into the backyard and wait for Wildling to find them.  Best idea ever.

When Wildling found the first rock, she was unbelievably excited: “What did I find, mama? What is this? It looks like a dinosaur! I’ve never seen one of these before!”  She was practically dancing for joy.  Then she found the second one and it was like her birthday and christmas and free-toy-giveaway day all at once.  She was so far beyond excited that there isn’t a word to describe it.  She was laughing and dancing and showing off her fossil dinosaur rocks and cradling them and putting them in a safe place and talking talking talking about how amazing it was that she found such awesome rocks.

That five minutes of pure adulterated joy made dealing with all the worthless boxed crap completely worth it.  I’ve never experienced happiness like Wildling did, I’ve never seen or even considered such happiness to be possible.  Now I need to find a way to see it again.

 

Fearing bad guys

We’re dealing with nightmares now.  Actually, no, maybe not quite nightmares yet, but recurring fears that are keeping Wildling up at night, and waking her from her dreams.

Yesterday we had a playdate with a friend, who told me that someone had broken into her car.  “A bad guy did it,” her four-year-old added not-so-helpfully.  Now Wildling is afraid of the bad guy who broke into the car.  I can see that would be a realistic fear for a child, because damage was done and things were stolen, and the nebulous ‘bad guy’ can be a scary concept.  But no amount of arguing can get her to see that the bad guy isn’t here.  I told her she needs to try to think only about good things, but she tells me “Mama, I can’t change my thinks.”

She’s also afraid of the bad guy on “PBS-kids-on-Television”  (she says it like that to differentiate between that and the PBS Kids branded games she has played on the ipad).  She doesn’t watch tv at our house, ever.  We aren’t big television watchers (but, full disclosure, I do watch every season of Project Runway online), and we decided before Wildling was born that we would do no television before age two.  Of course, my mother interpreted that as ‘on Wildling’s second birthday, we will immediately turn on the television set and introduce her to everything amazing and awesome thing that we had so cruelly deprived her of and we will begin watching tv all of the time,’ which of course did not happen.  But that’s an unnecessary digression. Suffice to say, despite my mother’s expectations, we do not have cable, satellite, or even an antenna to bring television programming into our home…but…

…Wildling spent the night at Will’s parents’ last night, and they thought it would be ok to watch some tv with her.  They’ve done it before with no problems (though Will’s mother was horribly disappointed around the winter holidays when Wildling didn’t like the traditional Rudolph movie), and they justified their actions by only turning on ‘PBS-kids-on-Television.’  Unfortunately, there was a bad guy, maybe a witch (?) that was destroying everything.  And now Wildling is scared of that bad guy as well.  She was crying tonight that she doesn’t like PBS-Kids-on-Television and she doesn’t want to see it anymore and maybe the bad guy is here.  

She’s a sensitive kid.  At school one of the teachers was reading the Three Little Pigs, and Wildling just sat in the back and cried because the wolf is scary.  We have to skip pages in some of her books, if something is scary or sad, or if a character is described as mean. Will used to talk about getting the real Grim’s Fairy Tales for her, you know, the original versions where everyone dies in the end rather than the cleaned-up modern happy endings.  I think I’m going to have to exercise a permanent veto on that. 

I try to put a positive and happy spin on things, but I worry sometimes that all the bad she will eventually encounter in this world will be too much for her sensitive spirit.  If I could keep her home and safe and away from all the scary things and mean things, I would, though eventually I would go insane myself from being cooped up with such a sensitive and needy (and loud!) child. 

I’m not sure what to do with her right now, other than send her back to bed with her stuffed animals and her nightlight and her assurances that her parents love her no matter what. 

First Steps

Dear Mellow,

It’s about that time, isn’t it?  You are about to take your first steps.  I see it coming.  Soon you will be walking, and then running, and then there will be no stopping you.

Wildling was your age when she began walking as well.  I remember her taking one or two steps at a time before falling – good thing we use cloth diapers, you’ve both needed the extra padding.  She took her first series of steps not towards me, not towards your papa, but towards a bug.  That’s right, she really learned to walk because she wanted to catch a bug (did she want to shove it in her mouth and eat it? Probably not. But I know you would – you’ll eat anything).

Mellow, I know you’re my last baby – your papa’s doctor made sure of that, as did my aging ovaries.  We had you just in time, making our goal of two kids by age thirty-five.  If I had conceived you just one month later, we wouldn’t have accomplished that goal.  Two children – two daughters, as I had hoped – is exactly enough for our little family.  But since you are my last baby, I want to enjoy your babyhood, savor it for as long as it lasts.  I won’t see another one like it until and unless the two of you have children, and, as I’ve already told your sister, you have to be twenty-five (at least!) before you’re allowed to reproduce.

I like your babyhood.  I like your fine soft hair that is growing in, turning from dark brown to blond.  I like your chompers, two on top, two on the bottom.  Your sister’s teeth came in late and in an unusual order, so I’m not familiar with the adorableness of a gap toothed grin like yours.  I like your chubby legs, and your fat feet, especially the pockets of fat on top of your tiny toes.  I like watching you learn from others, watching you copy Wildling, watching you try to blow your mobile like Grandma does, watching you point and reach and express your desires.  I like watching you grow and change and develop – but you are doing it too fast!

I’ll admit it.  I kind of wanted a late walker – you’re so easy to carry, and it was nice to be able to sit you down in one place and find you still there minutes later.  Now you crawl – silently, I might add, which is worrisome – and can move so fast.  Walking is just going to get you in to more things more swiftly.  Wildling, she wasn’t a crawler. She was a walker and a runner.  But the key difference between the two of you is sound.  When Wildling was doing nothing wrong, she was quiet.  When she was up to no good, she would hum or sing to herself.  I guess she thought that was a way to throw off suspicion.  Now that she’s older, she pretty much announces when she’s trying to get away with something: “Mama, don’t look,” or “Mama, stay right there and face that way,” or “Mama, I’m just going to close this door for a little while, ok?” So I always know when she’s about to do something she shouldn’t.  You, my baby, are quiet.  You silently crawl to the bookshelf, pull everything off, and start ripping out pages.  You silently crawl to Wildling’s toybox and empty its contents onto the floor.  You silently leave the room.  And most dangerous of all, you wake up silently and begin crawling towards the edge of the bed (we really should get a fourth side for the crib that we sidecarred to our bed, but I’m not ready to give up the ease of co-sleeping yet. I just have to be really vigilant).

You pull yourself up on the furniture, you cruise along.  You come off and stand for a few seconds before falling on your butt, grinning, and getting back up again.  I love that you get back up again, I love that you will pull yourself up thirty times if you have to.  I love that you are becoming so mobile.  But I’m not ready for your first steps.

I’m not ready for you to start walking.  I’m not ready for you to start walking away from me.

Love, Mama

 

Parenting Tip: Finding Lost Objects

One of my special superpowers (I have several) is my ability to find missing objects.  I almost always know the exact location of every item in my house.  Will can sometimes be pretty dependent on me.  He’s always asking “Where is such-and-such item,” and I can practically give him the GPS coordinates.    Where is Wildling’s other black shoe?  It’s under her dresser with a monkey stuffed in it.  Where is Mellow’s water bottle? It’s exactly where her big sister put it – on the right side of the second shelf in the pantry, behind the freeze dried blueberries.  Things always end up in strange places, and somehow, I can keep track of them all.

However, there was once a time when my superpower failed me.  My debit card was missing, and I just could not find it anywhere.  I knew it was somewhere in the house, and I knew it was within three feet of the floor, but that was all I knew.  See, it had gone missing after Wildling (about fifteen months old at the time) got her little hands on my wallet.  I was on the phone and couldn’t stop her, and I foolishly did not see the harm in letting her dump everything on the floor.  But somehow she wandered off with the debit card without my noticing.

I looked for it all day.  I even did the smart thing and went around on my knees so that I was seeing things from Wildling’s level.  I kept asking her where she put it, and even though she was able to say a surprising amount of words for her age, none of them were “I’m sorry Mama, it’s right here.”

Fortunately, after about eight hours of looking and nearly giving up, I hit upon a brilliant idea: I handed Wildling my credit card and told her to put it away.  Problem solved.  She stared at the card for a minute, looked at me, and then walked straight over to where she had slid my debit card in the space between her plastic high chair and the wooden chair it was strapped to.

 

Camping Near the Ill-informed

The year was 2007.  That was the year I lost all faith in the educational system of our country.

I still remember it so clearly.  Will and I were camping near a lake in rural Texas.  It was fall, and the weather was just beautiful.  There weren’t many other campers in the area; in fact there was only one other group, a few tent-sites away.  The group consisted of four college-aged kids, two boys and two girls (I’m sorry, but after what happened, I cannot refer to them as men and women, no matter their chronological age).  They were loud and cheerful, and probably having a wonderful time.

Let me set the stage a bit politically, for those too young to have been paying attention:  Presidential campaigns were gearing up, and the Democratic primaries were on everyone’s minds.  That was the year that both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton began competing for the nomination.  Part of the topic running through the media was the ‘First _____ President theme.’  Would we have our first Black president? Or would Clinton crack that gender barrier?  It was a topic for discussion everywhere, including, sadly, at this remote campsite.

Will and I were lying in our tent, trying to sleep, but could not due to the loud conversation.  Sound carries well at night, especially where there is no ambient noise to block it out.  The college-aged kids were getting political, and one of them mentioned the primary campaign.  And then this happened:

Loud Boy: You know Hillary Clinton could never be elected, right?  You understand we can never ever have a woman president.
Loud Girl: Why not? I think she’s pretty popular.
Loud Boy: But it doesn’t work.  There can never be a woman president, ever.
Loud Girl #2: Why not?
Loud Boy: Because she’s a woman.  She’ll get elected, and then she’ll get pregnant and die in childbirth and we’ll have to have a whole new election.

And every other damn kid agreed with him! I am not kidding.  This is not a joke.  They all expressed non-sarcastic amazement at his insight, agreed that the danger is too great (that whole dying in childbed thing) and wondered why there aren’t laws to prevent women from even running for office, since we don’t want to risk being president-less while having another election (ummm…isn’t that why we have a vice-president?).

That was the point I called the ranger station to complain about the loud campers, though I did not complain about how ignorance was spreading like a virus and I feared that if they did not shut up they would infect me as well.

 

 

 

That old house

When I was a child, my family moved around a lot.  We lived in five houses in four states (if you ask Ricky, he’ll say six in five states, but he is eighteen months older).  The state we lived in twice was the one I was born in that we returned to once again when I was ten, though in a different city.  I moved out at seventeen, and went on to live in three different states and one foreign country, though again one state was a repeat.

It’s Ohio.  I try to maintain some degree of anonymity, but I’ll admit this: I have lived in Ohio three separate times in my life.  The place that most reminds me of my childhood, the one in which my most formative memories occurred, was the house in Ohio that we lived in from age ten to fifteen.  Though my parents will argue that the state they live in now is my childhood home, they are wrong.  I lived there for two years as a teenager and never went back other than visits, and honestly never had any real desire to even do that.

I remember when we moved there.  We were all angry about moving again, though maybe Danny was too young to really understand.  I remember when we looked at the house we would ultimately buy, and I remember that my parents made a big deal about me getting to choose my bedroom – I was the girl so I got first choice.  They made it sound like quite an honor.  Except one issue with that: I couldn’t choose the master bedroom, because it was theirs.  And I couldn’t choose the biggest bedroom, because Jack and Danny had to share that one.  So really, my choice was between a medium sized room and a smallish room.   I took the small one, even though my mom tried to talk me out of it.  I liked the idea of having a small space all to myself.  I liked how cozy it was.  And honestly, it was a matter of staging: my room was previously an office, and there were bookshelves in it when we looked at the house, and I loved the idea of being surrounded by books (nicely done, real estate agent!).

I won’t identify the city here, but think smallish rust belt city.  We lived in the ‘rich’ neighborhood.  If we lived in someplace like California and I said we lived in the rich neighborhood, you would all have a good idea (based on tv/magazines) about our opulent lifestyle.  But this was a rural Ohio rustbelt ‘rich’ neighborhood – it basically meant we were middle class but luckier than the rest of the city.  Nobody was rich, nobody was doing all that well, but we at least weren’t struggling.

The best thing about that house was the yard.  We had a huge yard, and we were next to an empty lot that was a field with a creek.  Across the street from the empty lot was another empty lot with the entrance to the woods. Although I haven’t been there since the early ’90s, I have looked on google maps.  That field and creek are all gone now, and houses sit on the formerly vacant lots.  The woods where my brothers and I played and hid and climbed trees have been mostly taken out.  The pine trees that my parents planted on the edge of the property are gone, save one, but the maple tree we planted to honor our dead dog still remains.

The yard sloped steeply in the back, then was flat for a bit, became another small hill, then flat again.  If there was a really good snow storm, we could sled from the top of the hill all the way down and across the vacant lot, though none of us were ever able to reach the creek.  One year we tried sledding in a torrential rainstorm.  It was awesome and fun, and the line from our sleds scarred the yard for years.  Another year there was an ice storm that trapped us in the neighborhood for nearly a week.  We put on our father’s golf shoes and had the best time playing around on the ice (until first me then Jack decided to try sledding on the ice at the neighbor’s – I think I cracked a rib slamming into the trees, and Jack hurt himself as well. Turns out it takes less than two seconds to go from the top of a hill to the bottom when riding a plastic disk on four inches of solid ice, and if your plan is to stop yourself by slamming screwdrivers into the ice, your plan will fail terribly and painfully).

I remember once looking around the house and thinking that it wasn’t just a house, it was my home, that one day I would go off to college but this was the place I would always come home to.  I remember wondering how much would change, how much I would remember once I was a grown up and far away.  But that never came to pass.  Not the grown up thing, of course, but the coming home to that house.  We moved when I was fifteen, and just about to start my junior year of high school.  I never went back.  I’ve never seen that house again in person, and I probably never will.  It makes me sad to think about sometimes, but I’m happy with the life I have built in my adopted home town.

 

An Ode to Will on Father’s Day

On weekend mornings, Will gets up when Wildling does.  They go into the kitchen and make waffles, then they eat the waffles at the computer – she sits on his lap and watches him play Angry Birds.  It’s their special time together.

When Wildling was a baby, we enrolled her in swim classes at a year-round indoor swim school.  Every Saturday from the time she was eleven months until she was three and graduated into the big pool, Will took her to swim class and swam with her.  He loved it; it was the highlight of his week.  I never went with them – if she saw me in the parent room watching, she would cry and cry and cry.  When it was just the two of them, she didn’t cry and she had a great time.  They even appear in a training video for the teachers at the school – that’s how great they did in the water together.  Will was so sad when she was out of the baby classes and he didn’t get to swim with her.  That’s why Mellow takes swimming lessons now – it gives Will special time to bond with her in the water.

Will is in charge of bath and bedtime too.  We started that routine to give me a brief break in the evenings.  He gives Wildling a bath, makes sure she gets ready for bed, and reads her a story.  Sometimes he snuggles with her  – “Snuggle with me for five minutes, Papa,” she commands.  He does Mellow’s bath now, and eventually, when nursing isn’t a factor, he’ll be putting her to bed and reading her stories as well.

The girls both love him so much.  When he comes home from work, Mellow gets a huge grin on her face and reaches for him.  Wildling immediately demands he drop everything and play with her.  He is the fun parent.  He and Wildling play games like the ‘bridge game’ which involves him letting Wildling walk across his back and jump off him, the ‘boing game’ which involves her balancing on his leg and then he bounces her high into the air and down onto the bed, and ‘flying dinosaur,’ in which she sits on a stuffed dinosaur and he runs through the house making her fly in the air.

They do chores together too.  We have a pretty big garden, and Will is in charge of watering.  From the time she could walk, Wildling would help him, mostly just holding the hose.  She still follows him around the yard (sometimes they play the ‘running game’ where they race from the dirt pile to the other side of the yard and back again) and tries to help.  He teaches her about plants and lets her eat the leaves off the peppermint and basil.

Wildling looks just like Will.  She is his little clone.  I’m not sure there’s anything of me or my side of the family in her.  They even have matching belly buttons.  If you knew Will and had never seen Wildling, I guarantee that you’d be able to pick her out of a crowd.  Put a thousand kids together, and if you have seen Will, you’ll be able to look at that crowd and point her out, no problem (hint: also look for the kid screaming – she hates crowds, about as much as he does).  There are many things she has said about how she thinks and feels, and many reactions she has, that are exactly as Will was as a child.

Mellow looks like Will, too, but I think you can also tell she’s mine (you’d never guess I was Wildling’s mother though).  Strangers have looked at Mellow and commented on how she looks like her father.  His genes are strong.

Sometimes Will gets frustrated with the kids.  I do too.  It’s only natural, especially when dealing with a strong-willed yet emotionally fragile and needy child like Wildling.  Sometimes he gets mad and he can’t handle the screaming fits (Wildling) or the waking up at three am (also Wildling).  He gets tired of having someone yank out his chest hair (that’s Mellow) and claw his eyes (also Mellow).  He’s the reason that Wildling calls drivers of other cars jackasses and sometimes uses other pretty bad words.  But at least she uses them properly.

He is the best father that I know.  I love him, and our girls love him, and I think we’ve built an awesome life for ourselves.

Happy Father’s Day, Will.