Our Watchdog

Buddy as BearThere are a lot of places Buddy could sit and watch out the window for Michele or me to come home.

In the old days, wherever Michele, was Buddy was. These days it’s almost a 50-50 split. I mean, Buddy is still wherever Michele is; but if Michele’s not home, then wherever I am, Buddy is. Michele is far and away Buddy’s favorite, and he is her sworn protector, should she need one – all 18 lbs of him – from any meddling squirrels I the yard or any meddling sand hill cranes that come walking past the windows. Or the garbage truck.

But things are changing.

Because nobody was home today, so Buddy could’ve sat anywhere he wanted. He could’ve sat in my office and look out the front window, or he could’ve sat on the bed and looked out the back window… He could’ve laid by the side door in the workout room, because it looks right out onto the garage pad, and he would’ve seen anybody coming home.

He would have been looking for Michele, primarily, but any of us would do.

Today he chose to sit on a rug that’s at the back of the house – an odd choice. It still looks out onto the garage pad, but at an angle.

Maybe it’s softer. Maybe it catches the sun better, and he definitely likes sleeping in the sun.

Maybe.

I know that’s where he was, because the rug was turned up; half of it was flipped over on itself. That’s what happens when he runs off too quickly, like when he runs to greet Michele at the back door, or when he jumps off the bed. You can tell where he’s been hanging out; it’s flipped up.

He has favorite spots, like Michele’s side of the bed. It smells like her, just like the way Michele’s T-shirts smell like her. (You know, to a dog. They have that sensitive nose thing.) That’s why it’s his favorite spot, because it smells like her, his favorite.

He turns things up like rugs or blankets when he quickly scampers off them. And I know the rug was straight when I left, because I remember I went over to lock that door. I would have noticed if it was folded over on itself. Seeing that it’s turned up now means he was on it when he scampered off quickly – to greet me at the door.

So when I noticed the rug turned up, I knew that’s where he had been sleeping. It made me smile.

It’s not a big deal where he sleeps; he can pretty much sleep wherever he wants in the house as far as I’m concerned.

The fact that the pink princess rug is the one that was turned up, is a telling sign. That’s the one Savvy plays on when she gets out her plastic tea sets, or plays with her Barbies.

That one smells like her.

And that’s where he chose to hang out today while we were all gone.

Maybe he’s starting to get a new favorite.

Don’t tell Michele.

Toy Box

A  (13)Michele’s dad made a great toy box for Savvy when she was a toddler. He painted it a cute combination pink and purple color, just for her, and Michele decorated it with stick-on elephant decals and flowers. And the name “Savvy,” of course.

Savvy has loved her toy box since it first arrived at our house. The joy on her angelic face as she climbed inside and smiled from ear to ear at such a wonderful, huge toy box! She dreamed of all the magical toys it would soon hold. We even placed it in a prime spot, right in the corner of the living room, for all to see and enjoy.

Where it has become the bane of my existence.

Apparently you have to dig to the very bottom of the toy box to find the one toy – that one special, prized, amazing toy – that is the only one you can play with, and in the process you have to do throw every other toy on top of it onto the floor.

I mentioned this toy box is in our living room, right?

But Savvy is now four years old, so she can put those toys back in the toy box… right?

Well, yeah, kinda sorta… how long do you have?

A few minutes into the task of having our daughter put the toys back in the toy box, I walked back into the room. Savvy was sitting on the floor, playing with a few Barbies she had discovered.

Re-instructed that we are putting the toys INTO the toy box and not playing, she groans and commences piling various toy-looking objects into the toy box. I leave to check email for a moment.

When I return, the scene looks the same as when I left, except Savvy is sitting by the toy box, apparently exhausted.

“Daddy, this is so tiring! There are a lot of toys to pick up!”

I resisted the urge to tell her that Salvation Army will pick them all up with a phone call, never to return.

“Yeah, maybe that’s why you don’t throw them all over the floor when you’re getting something out of toy box.”

She sighs.

The look I got in return for that comment was one of complete and abject ridicule, held back only slightly. Like, “Dad, you can’t be serious; that’s not how it’s done. Come on.”

She’s only four, but I know that’s what she was thinking. In a few years, that’s probably what she’ll be saying.

But today, the result was firm, steadfast resolve: Put. Your. Toys. In. The. Toy box.

I think I even gritted my teeth while I said it, for effect. Clint Eastwood has nothing on me.

Okay, maybe I helped a little, too. The stuffed animals don’t go in there, and if they do go in, nothing else fits. So I took those upstairs for her while she put the rest of the toys in the toy box…

Most of them, anyway. Between playing with the Barbies.

I think it took her an hour…

It’s a start.

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School Lunch: Battle Of The Carrots

For Day 1 of school, Savvy was packed a delicious, nutritious lunch and “snack.”

 

At the parent orientation, the school administrators were very specific that they wanted nutritious snacks and lunches and not candy bars and junk. Fair enough. Although why does a kid need a snack 2 hours after eating breakfast and an hour before eating lunch? I think I just figured out our nation’s childhood obesity problem…

 

So, lunch Day 1 was a ham sandwich, grapes, a small packet of goldfish crackers, and a small little Tupperware of carrots.

 

This was, of course, all prepped and ready to go at 5am on the first day of school, which starts at 9am.

 

I’m a planner…

 

She goes off, she comes home; a great first day at school. Victory! Except…

 

She didn’t eat the carrots.

 

You are not surprised at this. I am not surprised at this, either.

 

But it was Day 1 and there was enough to deal with.

 

Day 2, same lunch but with a cheese sandwich. (And a smaller size snack, just to be on the safe side. Fewer goldfish.)

 

Didn’t eat the carrots.

 

Now, I was willing to let it go on Day 1 due to Day 1 jitters (I’m not saying whose) and I didn’t expect her teacher to force her to eat carrots on Day 1, either.

 

But on Day 2, I will admit I was a little miffed.

 

So I asked her: “Sweetie, why did you not eat your carrots?”

 

And I know why. It’s because they are carrots, and nobody eats carrots at school. Carrots are kind of yucky anyway, you know, in the grand scheme of things. I have to fuss at her to get her to eat them at home. A lot.

 

She sensed the urgency in my voice when I put the question to her, though, I’m sure.

 

But I waited very patiently for her answer to why she did not, on Day 2, eat her carrots at lunch at school.

 

She paused, and thought about it for a moment, and said:

 

“But, daddy, the other stuff in my lunchbox was so yummy!”

 

Okay, I caved after that.

 

She’s a shrewd one.

 

We’ll see how I do on Day 3.

 

 

First Day Of School

1st day of school b08122014 First Day Of School

I could never understand why people got emotional what people cried about their kid going off to school for the first day of school. It seemed silly. The kid isn’t going anywhere.

They aren’t really sad, exactly; it’s just they are overwhelmed with emotion and feeling a lot of things. Crying is one way of expressing it. I think I understand. I keep feeling like my daughter is going away. I’m going to miss her. Silly, huh? How can you miss somebody who’s going to be in your house every day, sleeping your house every night, eating breakfast at your table every morning?

She’s four years old. Three short years ago she was just learning how to walk. Two years ago she was learning how to get out of diapers to be potty trained. A year ago she was learning how to swim across the pool.

Seven days from now she goes off to her first day of school.

So many times she wanted to do things, but I couldn’t. I had to say “no.” That’s life. We get busy. The start of school means there will be less time for those opportunities now. I feel bad about that. I wish I had said yes more. I wish I had made more time.

Yesterday, all she wanted was to swim in our pool and we didn’t even do that. It rained all day. There was too much lightning. What a way to end summer. Couldn’t even go for a swim 20 feet outside my own back door.

So, all that first day of school crying? Silly. It’s a combination of parental guilt and sadness and excitement and fear… School just gets the blame. But there’s also the immense pride at how grown up my little girl is becoming. How excited she is to make new friends. She made sure she had her lunch box and backpack all set to go. She carried it around all day. (I mentioned that school doesn’t start for a week, right?)

Parents feel an undeniable tint on this whole thing that is a steady reminder: with each passing day, the child needs the parents a little less.

I knew way back during those 3am feeding that this day would come. I was warned. I wanted it to come back then. Now, I wish I had more time.

Nobody enjoys saying goodbye. That sweet little kid that looked up to me and thought I was the smartest, bravest, funniest man on Earth, who enjoyed laughing playing with me more than anyone else, is about to find out the truth – that there are a lot of interesting kids in school, and, well… dad is still pretty neat, but these kids want to play hopscotch and climb trees and crawl through tubes!

It isn’t over, I know. That’s silly; everything is still just starting. And I want her to grow and explore and become the person she is going to be. She isn’t going anywhere, but in some ways, she’s already gone. It’s a tiny taste of what is coming and I don’t like it, even though I’m sure I’m going to enjoy how things are going to be. But that doesn’t mean I can’t also miss how they were.

So don’t expect me to be one of those parents crying on the first day of school.

I did it today and got it over with when nobody was looking.

.

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RIP Robin Williams

I happened to have the news on when they announced that Robin Williams died. At first, I thought, well, he did a lot of drugs back in the day, he’d had a heart attack recently, I guess it shouldn’t surprise me. Then I thought, that’s too bad, too, because he was doing well with his new Tv show. I liked it.

 I liked a lo of his stuff. I thought he came on strong at the start of his career, got bigger with movies – some of them were really good; Good Morning Vietnam, Dead Poets Society – he helped a lot of young actors out (like what he did for Affleck and Damon by doing Good Will Hunting)…

 He seemed to fade for a while, and I wondered where he was. Some of his movies weren’t so good, to me anyway.

 Then I heard that it might have been suicide, and that he was depressed. That’s sad, of course, but he was open about it; I just didn’t know. He felt like being open about it would encourage other depressed people to let the ones who love them, help them. (You can’t help if you don’t know.) What a good guy.

 So at 3am when my daughter made a potty run and I couldn’t get back to sleep (she announced it with such vigor I woke up and that was that), I came down to check in on Facebook and say Hi to some friends, click a few likes, Follow a few people I’ve lost touch with. I’m not depressed and neither are they, I think, but I can do a better job of staying in touch.

 I don’t follow actors or Hollywood types much, so Robin Williams’ death shouldn’t bother me, but it made me remember times when I laughed so hard at things he did: TV sitcoms, movies, stand up, LP records – and often I was laughing along with good friends.

 I’ll miss him but I don’t have to miss them.

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