Talkin’ With Pook

pook at the beach

Today is a special day. It’s Pookie’s ninth birthday. I’ve had the good fortune of being her step dad for nearly four years now. All told, I’ve known her for two thirds of her life.

And I’ve loved her every minute of it.

While Caroline was carrying the triplets, countless well intentioned people would say something along these lines: “Just wait til you have your own children.”

“I’m sure. I’ve got Alli, so I know what you mean.”

“Yeah, but just wait. You’ll see.”

The insinuation, of course, was that I didn’t know what they meant and that I wouldn’t until I had my own biological children. And I understand what those people meant. The best day of my life (aside from my wedding day) was the one when the wee threesome began their reign of planet Earth. But that said, I don’t love Alli any differently than I do A, B, or C, except, perhaps, for the fact that I love her like a parent loves his or her first child.

My point? The fact that she’s not “mine” has never made a difference. And it never will.

When I proposed to Lovie, it was important to me that Pookie be part of the process. So after I sought permission from Lovie’s mom (her dad is deceased), I sought the same thing from Pook. Here’s how it went down.

“Pookie, I got something very important I wanna talk to you about. So pick anywhere in the whole house where you want to have a serious chat.”

Oddly, she chose the very corner of her momma’s bedroom where we sat Indian style facing one another. Perhaps odder still, my hands were damp with anxiety.

Deep breath.

“You know I love you, right?” I began.

“Yeeeessss,” she answered coyly.

“Did you know I love your mommy, too?”

“I thought you loved her!” She wore a grin that stretched from one ear to another.

“Well you’re right. In fact, I love your mommy so much that I wanna marry her.”

A look of genuine disappointment came across Pookie’s face. “But Mommy’s already married,” she said while looking down at the planks of the hardwood floor, her finger tracing an imaginary pattern.

Understandable confusion for sure. After all, Pookie was only four, and divorce is anything but black and white. A less prepared man might have been derailed by such confusion. But luckily, I had anticipated this stumbling block.

“Oh, honey, your mommy’s actually not married to your daddy any more. That’s why you live in this house,” I said, making a sweeping gesture with my arm. “Remember that book It’s Not Your Fault Koko Bear?”

Of course she did. She and her mom read it together all the time. I had even read it to her a time or two.

“Well, it’s just like Koko Bear’s Mommy and Daddy. They were all grumpy and grumbly when they lived together so they decided not to be married any more and moved into different homes. So, just like Koko Bear, you have two homes now.”

“Well, if you married Mommy, where would you live?”

“I’d move in with y’all.”

Pook’s face lit up like a Christmas tree. “Would Briggs come, too?”

Hmmm. The downside seemed to be that the prospect of living with my dog was more appealing than that of living with me. But the upside? I had a trump card. So I laid it down like Phil Ivey.

“He sure would, honey.”

Excitement turned to flat-out jubilation. “You better bring his food!”

“I will, honey. I will. So whaddya say?”

Permission granted.

Pookie, thank you for letting me marry your mom. And thank you, also, for being such a wonderful daughter. I can’t believe you’re nine, already! You’re becoming such a big girl, and I want you to know how proud I am of you! Happy Birthday, sweetheart! I love you SO VERY MUCH!

pookie always makes a splash in whatever she does!

Dear Random-Ass Lotto Junkies

Dear Random-Ass Lotto Junkies,

Do you have to scratch off your lotto tickets on the convenient store counter? Hmmm? Do you? Because there’s nothing worse than standing ten deep in a line that’s being held up by one of the many in your pathetic legion. Thankfully, most (if not all) establishments no longer tolerate such behavior. I suspect it’s because ownership finally realized that the spasmodic, wrist-vibrating motion you employ to confirm the wasted status of the dollar you just spent strongly resembles rodent masturbation, which, it turns out, is bad for business.

portrait of two junkies

So what did you clowns do? You took your addiction ten feet away, where you may not be holding up any more lines, but where you are still in clear sight of the convenient store patrons thanks to the glass, outer walls which frame such establishments. It’s there where you now conduct your ugly business atop a foul-smelling waste receptacle.

Hast thou no shame, oh shameful ones?

Forget for a moment that the very sight of you is disturbing. Think, instead, of how unfair it would be for other patrons to follow your very lead. Namely that of consuming their product mere seconds after purchase. It’d be anarchy.

How would you like it if college kids busted out a funnel and started throwing down their beers on the store sidewalk?

You don’t see rolling-paper patrons twisting up a quick doobie atop the door-side garbage can, do you?

The folks who walk out with Tide under their arm don’t bust out a quick load of laundry, do they?

I bet you can’t recall a single time that someone made a parking lot sandwich with the lunchmeat and loaf of bread they just bought, can you?

And speaking of loaves, have you ever seen someone walk out of the store and immediately pinch one just so they could use the Charmin they snagged on aisle three?

And do I even need to ask you about all those who’ve purchased condoms or feminine hygiene products? Because it’s glaringly obvious that in each of these cases, folks have the common decency to wait until the appropriate time before using the product they just purchased.

So why can’t you? Hmmm?

Sincerely,

John Cave Osborne

The Riddle

UPDATE: One of my readers saw fit to ask me a question that had absolutely nothing to do with this post, so check out the comments if you’re so inclined.

I’ve been awfully quiet lately. Suffice it to say that I’ve had a lot on my plate. But don’t give up on me. Soon, I (and my blog) will be back to normal. In the meanwhile, I got something for you.

Pookie is swimming in the city meet today and Lovie is cheering her on which has left yours truly in charge of the terrible trio. And something happened first thing this morning that left me scratching my head.

The scenario: I walked into the boys’ bedroom and was immediately blown away by an unpleasant odor, near certain there was an accident of epic proportions awaiting me. But there wasn’t. At least not one of epic proportions. Just three separate quarter-sized brown spots in three very different locations.

Puzzled, I walked into their bathroom where the scent intensified. B was sitting ON TOP of the vanity, playing in the bathroom sink wearing only a pull-up and tee shirt. A was in the bathroom, too, wearing nothing but a grin. He was proud to tell me that he had gone poo poo in the potty, and as he made this announcement, I noticed a small amount of, um, you know, on his forehead. A thin, brown line. The potty which A had just used? Nothing in it. The mandatory parental wipe I administered? It yielded nothing that would lead me to believe that A had anything to do with the spots on the bedroom carpet.

So my question for you is what happened?

As I washed A‘s face, I couldn’t figure out how his well-executed, and well-contained scatological effort could have rendered such mass destruction. That’s when it hit me. There was one stone which I had left unturned. And that stone was still playing in the vanity sink.

B‘s diaper was a train wreck, containing a preposterous blowout, and was clearly the source of the aforementioned mass destruction.

One riddle solved. Two boys to bathe. And three spots to sanitize. My day had gotten off to a shitty start (sorry), but I didn’t mind.

Pookie is swimming in the city meet today and Lovie is cheering her on which has left yours truly in charge of the terrible trio. And I love taking care of the terrible trio. No matter what.

The Struggle for Freedom

As we inch closer to the Fourth of July, I thought it’d be the perfect time to parallel two epic struggles for freedom — The American Revolution and one which you may not yet know about.

Freedom — it’s a tricky little paradox, no? Though entire wars have been fought to attain it, neither side of those wars has ever defined it the same way. To the British colonists, freedom meant escaping the tyrannical rule of the throne. Yet to England, that same freedom was experienced as nothing more than dangerous insubordination. Fast forward nearly 250 years to the other fight for freedom, the one that’s happening as we “speak” in my very home.

That’s right, Lovie and I have been under attack for quite sometime now, as our wee threesome have teamed up in an attempt to collectively undermine our authority. Though there are many small skirmishes each and every day, of late there has been one flat-out battle, and it’s waged at bedtime. Which brings me back to the paradoxical nature of freedom. To Lovie and me, it’s attained when we finally get our three monsters down for the night. Yet our trio will never go quietly into that good night because, to them, being told when to go to bed violates their freedom. Simply put? They’re not going down without a fight.

The parallels between our ongoing fight and the American Revolution do not end with the paradoxical takes on freedom. They’re only just beginning, though I will admit, they may not be readily apparent to the casual observer. No, there’s not an ocean between us, but there is a flight of stairs. And, no, the reigning authority doesn’t speak with a cockney accent, but we do roll with a mild southern drawl. And no, our insurgents haven’t gone so far as to throw a Boston Tea Party. But the do Often Pee in the Potty.

And though they haven’t come up with a slogan behind which to rally, it’s simply because they’re too young to formally articulate one. While the colonists were galvanized by “No taxation without representation,” our guys seem to circle the wagons with something along the lines of “Bedtime’s bullshit, y’all.”

Betime's bullshit, y'all.

Little cutie-pie C, believe it or not, was the leader of the charge when the attacks first began. The only one to have graduated to a “big bed,” she took it upon herself to repeatedly get out of that bed and scream bloody murder. At first we thought it was just a phase, which to be fair, it was. But it was also a grim harbinger of things to come.

Having roused the rebels into action, C now goes to bed without event. She’s passed the baton to her brothers, A and B, who currently carry the midnight torch while my adorable little peanut gets her beauty sleep. Each night, we can hear the boys plotting in not-so-quiet tones, speaking much like Mr. Miyagi from The Karate Kid – with little or no regard for grammatical nuances such as tense or subject-verb agreement.

The Bedtime Bandits hours before the battle.

After such strategy sessions, a period of eerie silence ensues which will inevitably be broken by the tell-tale thump-thump – not the beating of a heart, mind you, but rather the landing of little feet. The noise serves as confirmation that one of our junior associates has scaled the thirty-inch crib wall and leapt onto the plush carpet of freedom, from whence he can and will openly defy the monarch by playing with his toys, grabbing a book, or perhaps even rocking a forbidden nighttime deuce on the big potty.

You know what will sometimes put an end to the uprising? A swift smack on the ass. That’s right. The King is a spanker. And while he completely understands and respects parents who don’t spank their children, his counter to their stance is but one sentence. Show the King a parent who doesn’t spank, and the King’ll show you a parent who doesn’t have toddler triplets. Once the King administers his can of whoop-ass, order is often restored.

But not always. You see, it seems as if the freedom fighters have learned to execute the landing of their forbidden jumps with silent agility, thus pushing their nighttime envelope further still. Yet even if they hit the carpet of emancipation without alerting the ruling party, sooner or later, the duo will slip up. Like the other night when the King and Queen heard the sound of muffled screaming through the royal monitor.

The King and Queen quickly scurried upstairs to see what was the matter, more than a little puzzled. Why are their cries muffled? they wondered. Predictably, A and B were out of their cribs. Unpredictably, they had locked themselves in the bathroom which adjoins their sleeping quarters which explained why the cries weren’t as loud as normal.

“Just open the door,” the King urged the rebels, though his words were probably inaudible thanks to their deafening cries. “I don’t get it,” he told the Queen. “They know how to open the door even when it’s locked. All they have to do is twist the handle.” Another thing he didn’t get was why the air was heavy with the scent of lotion. Or was it baby shampoo?
-
The King retreated to Princess Pookie’s quarters to look for something to help him spring the soldiers who by that point were nobly screaming “Mommy!” With the glossy cover of a Hannah Montana notepad, the King jimmied the lock and sprung the little idealists from their ironic and temporary incarceration.
-
The regal couple were not prepared for what they next saw. Virtually every single thing in the bathroom was covered with a mixture of lotion and Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Shampoo. (No more tears, my ass.) The floor was completely coated in a goopy mess. As was the vanity cabinet. Even the boys, themselves were covered with the concoction from head to toe, so much so that B’s ongoing cries were accompanied by bubbles each and every time he opened his mouth to emit one.
-
The doorknob was not immune, either. It got slimed, too, which, incidentally, is why A and B were trapped — their hands couldn’t hold a grip as they tried to twist the handle. In their efforts, they must have accidentally pushed the button and locked themselves inside. (Good thing the King used to be a garden-variety hoodlum, or they might still be trapped). Newly freed, A and B scurried to the Queen, slipping and sliding along the way like intoxicated chimpanzees ice-skating across a frozen pond.
-
The Queen gave them a bath after which the King gave them a spanking and order was eventually restored. But the ruling authorities weren’t born yesterday. They know another battle will soon be waged. And another one after that. And another one, still.

It is with equal amounts of dread and thankfulness with which they will await said battles. After all, their kingdom is a blessed one. And they know it. That’s why they fight to keep it in tact.

Happy Fourth of July, y’all.

Gone Fishin’

A man can’t be a man unless, at least every now and then, he’s allowed to be a man. You follow?

Lovie does. That’s why she grants me the occasional hall pass to get out into the woods where I can scrub myself free of worldly worries long enough to eat dinner by an open fire to the soundtrack of running water and crackling wood.

This weekend, two friends and I went on a backpacking trip to do some fishing, ultimately ending up a little over six miles in, camping alongside a pristine mountain stream. Since we were above 3,000 feet, we were able to catch some brookies (of the southern Appalachian variety). These small, beautiful fish live in water which roars over boulders and carves its way through the valley, down the rolling foothills of the Smokey Mountains, reluctantly providing anglers tiny pockets of opportunity to snag these native delights. Hours seem like minutes as they, like many of the coveted fish, swim right by and turn into the past, one five-second drift at a time.

My friend did an excellent job documenting our trip, right up to the meal we gorged on once we finally got out of the woods. Click to check out his slide show. Oh. One warning…there are some random pics of bear-shit that my buddy decided to include. May need to talk to him about that…

The Karate Trips

In the summer of 1984, I developed a shoe fetish. Check that, it was actually a Shue fetish. As in Elisabeth Shue. You know, the unassuming hottie who played Ralph Macchio’s love interest in that deplorable movie, The Karate Kid?

Yet as memorable as Elisabeth proved to be, it was Mr. Miyagi who made the biggest impression on me. In fact, even after all these years, I still think about him every day. Can you guess why? No? Maybe the following exchange will help.

Daniel: Hey, what kind of belt do you have?
Miyagi: Canvas. JC Penney, $3.98. You like?
Daniel: [laughs] No, I meant…
Miyagi: In Okinawa, belt mean no need rope to hold up pants. [laughs; then, seriously] Daniel-san… [taps his head] Karate here. [taps his heart] Karate here. [points toward his belt] Karate never here. Understand?

Give up? I’ll always remember Mr. Miyagi for telling Daniel-san that, no matter how much he practiced, his, um, “johnson” would never be able to administer a karate chop.

Kidding. Sorry about that.

So seriously. You still don’t know why I think of Mr. Miyagi every day? Here. Read this exchange and see if you can figure it out.

Daniel: Hey – you ever get into fights when you were a kid?
Miyagi: Huh – plenty.
Daniel: Yeah, but it wasn’t like the problem I have, right?
Miyagi: Why? Fighting fighting. Same same.
Daniel: Yeah, but you knew karate.
Miyagi: Someone always know more.
Daniel: You mean there were times when you were scared to fight?
Miyagi: Always scared. Miyagi hate fighting.
Daniel: Yeah, but you like karate.
Miyagi: So?
Daniel: So, karate’s fighting. You train to fight.
Miyagi: That what you think?
Daniel: [pondering] No.
Miyagi: Then why train?
Daniel: [thinks] So I won’t have to fight?
Miyagi: [laughs] Miyagi have hope for you.

Give up? I think of Mr. Miyagi every day because my toddlers talk just like him. They’re finally able to express their thoughts, and like the karate master, they do so with surprisingly few words as well as with little or no regard to grammatical nuances such as subject-verb agreement. The nouns in their short sentences may not be preceded by articles, but Sam, Jack, and Kirby are able to make their points nonetheless, even if they choose to make them while referring to themselves in the third person. Just like Mr. Miyagi. (And that annoying, little red bastard, Elmo.)

Whenever I happen upon Jack, he’s quick to tell me what he’s doing. And he’s always doing the same thing.

“Jack play with twuck, Daddy. Jack like twuck.”

“I know you do, buddy. Here. Let Daddy play, too.”

“Daddy play with twuck? Jack turn. Jack play with twuck now.”

It’s the same thing with Kirby, only with a twist. She, too, speaks like Mr. Miyagi, but she does so while treating me like an unwanted suitor.

“I love you, Kirby.”

“Kirby love Mommy.”

“Don’t you love Daddy, too?”

[Like Daniel-san, she ponders before giving her answer.] ”No. Kirby love Mommy.”

While Jack is busy playing with “twucks,” and Kirby is busy worshiping Lovie, at least I can always count on Sam for a little back and forth. The other day, we were walking into his room when I made the mistake of opening the door.

“No, Daddy. Sammy open door. Sammy do it. Sammy do it!”

So I closed the door and let him open it. Once he did, he ran into the room with a grin that begged me to chase him. So I did. And once I caught him, I pulled up his shirt, buried my face on his belly, and gave him a world class zerbert, causing the little guy to laugh uncontrollably.

“Daddy tickle Sammy,” he said as he touched the stubble on my chin that had exacerbated his reaction.

“That’s Daddy’s beard,” I explained.

“Daddy beard,” he repeated.

“That’s right, buddy. Sammy will have a beard one day, too.”

Sam touched his smooth face and looked into my eyes with wonder. ”Sammy beard?” he asked.

“Yep.”

He smiled at the prospect of his eventual manliness, until a look of concern swept over his face.

“Daddy?” he began as he reached up and touched the bare spot on the top of my head. “Sammy bald?” he asked in a serious tone.

And just like that, Sammy took the Mr. Miyagi thing to the next level. After all, Sammy-san not only talk like Miyagi, he think like him, too. Wise Sammy know when some man grow hair in one place, he lose hair in other.

“You’ll probably be okay, buddy.”

A look of relief accompanied his widest smile yet. “Sammy no bald, Daddy. Sammy no bald.”

The Trail

Each year Lovie is good enough to let me abandon my family and hike a portion of the Appalachian Trail for several days. Some of her friends give me grief about my annual sojourn. They seem to consider it nothing more than a thinly veiled excuse to have a three-day bender in the woods with my buddies. If they only knew.

Hours and hours are spent consulting our trusty maps as well as several guidebooks to carefully analyze topography, mileage, water sources, weather patterns, shelters, and campsites before we even decide upon our itinerary. It takes almost as long to organize our backpacks. The last thing you can afford on the trail is too much weight, which means many of the things I might have wanted to take get left behind. That’s okay, though. You get by better with only the things you need.

My friends and I temporarily trade our complicated but comfortable lives for simple, arduous ones. We hike up and down 5,000-foot inclines, covering up to 20 miles a day, armed with nothing more than 40 pounds of essentials, the clothes we’re wearing, and a desire to lead more meaningful lives.

I can’t speak for my companions, but while I’m in the woods, I feel the entire gamut of emotions—from exhilaration after cresting a two-mile incline, to wonder while witnessing the divine beauty at the top, to relief at beginning a much-needed descent, to despair when staring at yet another uphill stretch, to exaltation when I finally see the campsite I’ve dedicated the previous 11 hours to reach. It’s there I’ll rest and replenish all so I can experience another collage of emotions the very next day.

[Read more...]

Control Issues

okay, you guys start with "twuck," and i'll chime in with bus. got it?

We’ve officially reached the echo stage at our house. You know, when at least one phrase from every sentence spoken gets repeated by a toddler? While that might get a touch old fairly quickly, it’s nowhere near as bad as hearing the triplets repeat their own words. Incessantly. Which is what’s been happening in the car lately.

All three of them were going nuts this past Saturday. “Show, Daddy, show. Show, Daddy, show. Show, Daddy, show.”

No. They’re not repeating their favorite Ben Roethlisberger pick-up lines. They’re demanding to watch a video in the car while we run our Saturday errands. (Pongo and Perdita. We’re off Elmo.)

At least that demand could be met, which pleased our little associates and quickly restored the peace.

For a little bit.

“Twuck,” said B.

“What’s that, buddy?” I asked.

“Twuck.”

“I don’t see any trucks.”

“Twuck.” This time it was A.

“Twuck, twuck, twuck, twuck” they began chanting in unison, each iteration louder than the previous one.

They wanted to see trucks, which put Lovie and me at the mercy of the truck Gods. Though they’re money on the interstate, they’re shaky at best on windy neighborhood roads. Which is where we were at the time. Which meant we were in for several minutes of “twuck” talk.

At least C isn’t big on trucks. She’s more of a…

“Bus.”

…bus kinda gal.

“Bus,” she said again. “Bus, bus, bus, bus, bus!”

Allow me to breakdown the situation for you. Three toddlers, wanting to see two different things, doing one annoying thing to drive home their point. Lovie and I were frustrated to say the least. Why? Because we weren’t in control of the situation.

From the very first day we brought our little guys home, one thing was clear. If Lovie and I didn’t establish control quickly, it’d be the tail that wagged the dog around our house for eighteen years. So we set a strict schedule for the triplets from day one. We seldom deviate from it. Nap times, feed times, bath times, and bed times are all set in stone. We got started early on the potty, successfully training all three shortly after their second birthday. We always make them clean up after themselves, we hardly ever pick them up and carry them, and we’re not afraid to put them in time out. Please and thank you are a must, as is sir and ma’am.

Old shool? Maybe. Instill-respectful-order school? You bet.

We’re pretty damn strict. And people can say whatever they want about it, but unless we want our family life to resemble a methodically moving train wreck riddled with endless fussing and distracting drama, we have to put the hammer down. And we like our end result. Because of our philosophy, the trips are down by seven each night, allowing us to spend some quality time with Pookie at the end of our day without the presence of an echo. And Pookie needs that. Come to think of it, her parents need that, too! And we get it, so long as we have control of the situation.

Which is what made our Saturday drive all the more difficult. We had no control of the situation. Not only could we not physically stop A, B, and C from their chanting, we also couldn’t magically make buses and trucks appear while driving down Northshore to Kroger. So their simultaneous, bi-gender, vehicular-related meltdowns were difficult to endure.

Twuck, twuck, twuck, twuck, twuck.

Bus bus. Bus bus.

Twuck, twuck, twuck, twuck, twuck.

Bus bus. Bus bus.

After about ten minutes? Let’s just say we were over all of the twuckin’ bussy-ness. If Lovie and I could have produced a gaggle of eighteen-wheelers, each pulling a trailer of buses, we would have done so in a New York minute. Because we needed to get control of the situation, and that was impossible because…well…

Because our triplets were trying to do the same thing. That is, they, too, wanted control of the situation. So it was a battle of wills. We wanted order. They wanted trucks and buses. In this instance, neither side won.

And we’re okay with that. If we keep it up, we’ll win our fair share. And if we win our fair share, I have a feeling that the triplets and Pookie will be winners, too.

Photo Haikus

This post is proud to be a part of Fatherhood Friday. Go check out what the other great dads are blogging about today by visiting dad-blogs.

Quick note to my Ktown peeps — my blog got a shout out on Live at Five at Four on Wednesday. A big thank you to Katie Granju for the love. If you’re visiting because of the reference, take a peek around, as this is not my typical post. But this is. So’s this. Oh, and maybe this, too.

Moving on…

If you stop by my modest blog regularly, you know that I’m usually good for a (reasonably) solid literary effort.

Today? Not as much. All I got for you this time is nine pictures. Three of A, three of B, and three of C.

Well, I suppose I have a little more than that. I’ve also written a haiku for each of our toddlers–one line per picture. So why the haikus? I’ll explain them with yet another:

Just a normal night.
Until I saw something else,
Mundanely magic.

Sammy Monster

He's stoked for bath time!

can be tentative at first,

He likes to fill the cup up.

Our Sammy monster.

Laid Back Jack

Jack is sensitive.

Curious and to himself,

thoughtful, shy, and sweet.

Kirby Girl

Kirby's precocious.

So charming like her mommy,

beautiful like Pook.

Curiosity Killed the Cat?

Raising children is a curious task, indeed.

Take B, for instance. He loves all things vehicular. Just yesterday we were stopped at a red light on a road which paralleled the interstate, a truck-lover’s paradise. Honestly? B could have sat there all day. Every time an eighteen-wheeler drove by, he would utter “Twuck,” slowly, almost forlornly, as if it were a long lost love he’d not seen in years–one he knew, all too well, he might never see again.

So when B plays with toys, it typically looks like this:

B likes his vehicles.

Yet the other day, it looked like this:

that's not a truck!

What in the world? I thought, as I witnessed my little guy giving Dora the eye.

Seconds later, I learned that I wasn’t the only curious one.

I wonder if there's a truck under here.

They say that curiosity killed the cat, but in this case, it merely prompted B to look for it. (Oh my. I am sooo sorry for that. Just pathetic…)

Son, stick with trucks. For now at least. Okay?

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