Category Archives: Munchkin

A New Way To Nap

 

The early days weren’t easy of course, they aren’t for anybody, but for the past several years Alaina has been a great sleeper. It never takes more than forty five minutes of arguing to get her to lie down at night and more often than not needs to be woken in the morning to prepare for school. I find it strange that many of her toys seem to re-arrange themselves during the night, but as long as I don’t hear anything I just assume it’s another case of my memory not being as reliable as it once was.

What she is not very good at is acting like a reasonable human being when she doesn’t get the amount of sleep that she needs. It’s a common phenomena, not limited to her or even to children, but because I still remain in the unique position to have some semblance of authority over her I have taken a bold step to try and combat this emotional roller coaster. I’ve re-introduced nap time. For both of us.

The first few times went great. It’s happened less since she’s gotten an upgraded, much more comfortable bed in her room, but there are still a few nights a month when I wake up to an extra person beside me, usually breathing directly into my face. She loves our big bed almost as much as I do, loves sleeping almost as much as she does eating, and took surprisingly little convincing before joining me in a ninety minute afternoon siesta.

Today was different. A very late night and an early morning. Three hours spent swimming in the hot sun leading to nonstop whining interrupted only by the occasional yawn. Her own whining nearly as bad. A cold shower and I was ready for a rest.

She appeared to agree. We changed into our PJs, Tom and Jerry for her, Batman for me, and brushed our teeth.

That’s when the bombshell was dropped. She wanted to nap in her own bed, by herself, loaning me a few of her stuffed friends in case I got lonely.

 

Napping Alone

 

I won’t say that I was disappointed to have the bed to myself, but her words stung. Was this just another example of her increasing independence? A trick to get into mischief while I slumbered unawares? My wife makes outrageous claims about my snoring and cover stealing, surely that couldn’t be a factor?

I’m afraid I’ll never know. She says that she slept, but I have my doubts. Two hours later a tapping on my shoulder from a hungry little girl led to a quickly prepared PB&J and a rush out the door towards our next adventure.  Another summer night leading to a missed bedtime, another early awakening in store for the morning, and hopefully, another afternoon nap tomorrow.

It appears that my cuddle buddy has yet to be determined.

 

napping alone

 

 

 

 

Life Love and Dirty Dishes

Braver Than I Want Her To Be

 

A man died in our town this week. I didn’t know him but offer my condolences to his family, friends, and anybody that might be reading that did. To be honest, I don’t even know his name.

I know that he died falling from a cliff, if not the exact circumstances. It’s a cliff that has claimed other lives over the years, a several hundred foot drop overlooking a small lake, several miles into the woods. It’s the end point of a long, somewhat arduous trail in a state park nearby, a trail that my daughter and I walk often.

 

too close to the edge

 

We usually stop and turn around when we reach the lake. Little feet get tired and I’ve been tricked before by an overly ambitious partner who wants to go “just a little bit further”, only to be carried the last quarter mile or so back to my truck.

A few weeks ago we went farther. It wasn’t my intention but we had merged into a larger group, little miss social deciding that we were walking with them now. Whether this was because of their stated intention to reach the peak or because they seemed amused by her endless prattle is unclear but they seemed pleasant, she was determined, and there was enough daylight left that I wasn’t too concerned with her stamina levels.

We reached the end and it was awesome, a magnificent view that was everything that’s great about hiking, everything that I hope for her to appreciate when we take these walks.

 

too close to the edge

 

It also scared the shit out of me, mainly because she wasn’t. We saw several people, fully equipped, that had just finished climbing the cliff’s face and several more that were preparing to rappel down. She immediately asked if she could have a “climbing suit” for her birthday so that she could try it next time.

A quick look around, a few pictures, and an argument about how close she was allowed towards the edge and I was ready to start heading back.

 

too close to the edge

 

I love how brave she is but fear that there is a degree of recklessness that needs to be addressed. She told me that she wasn’t afraid of falling to her death because that would just mean that she’d get to Heaven before me, but not to worry – she’d be sure to wait. I don’t want her paralyzed by fear or upset about the concept of death but I need her to respect it, need her to know to stay the hell away from the edge of a cliff that people have died falling from. I honestly don’t know how to find that balance.

In the meantime I think we will stop at the edge of the lake the next time we hike that trail. It also might be time to find some new ones, ones that don’t cause me as much anxiety. There are still plenty of places that we have yet to explore.

Judging by the condition she was in by the time we finally made our way back to the truck, I’m guessing that she may not argue with me about that.

 

too close to the edge

 

 

 

A Child’s God

 

 

 

Now that she is almost through with Kindergarten, my daughter knows just about everything. Like most know-it-alls, she has no problem informing others of this fact or educating others about the things that they do not know. She still talks non stop, but there are much less questions than there used to be, instead opening discussions with “did you know?” followed by what feels like a several hour lecture on whatever topic she feels inclined to elucidate on.

Most of the time I enjoy these dissertations, if not the assumption that she knows more than me. They are proof not only that she is paying attention in school, but also that she is still excited about learning new things and is proud of that knowledge.

Other times I have no idea what she is rambling on about and am amazed by the absolute sincerity she projects while stating complete nonsense as indisputable fact. I’m often left wondering where she may have picked up such ideas or if she is just so enamored with the sound of her own voice that she’s content to simply make things up. The degree to which I pay attention can vary, but I was all ears this morning when she sat me down and informed me that “it was time for her to tell me about God.”

Some of her story I had heard before, death being a topic that we’ve discussed before though I’m not sure that she fully understands it, not sure that I want her to. During our plane ride to Florida earlier this month she was convinced that since we were above the clouds, where Heaven was, that she should be able to see dead people out the window. I’ll confess to having no idea whatsoever what to tell her.

The God that she told me about is a maker. In addition to the planet and all the people, He also made the buildings and all the food. He did this to take care of us. He spends his time in Heaven, above the clouds with all the dead people, and He watches over us to make sure that we stay safe and provided for. He wants us to be good people and to do good things for each other. He wants us to all be nice.

Her God is a parent.

 

I have my own personal beliefs, a post for another day perhaps, but religion doesn’t play a major role in our family. Sometime in the near future I’ll start taking her to church and we’ll talk about the things that we hear there. We’ll start at the same Congregationalist Church that her sister and I attended for a while, the one that reminded me of the church of my youth. Their God was a kind one, accepting and tolerant, much like hers.

Along the way she will be taught that whatever she believes, whatever road her own spiritual journey takes, there will be others than believe differently, that have their own Gods and that that’s OK. She’ll be taught that being religious isn’t always the same as being right, no matter how strong and purposeful your faith. She will be taught that there are people that do terrible things in the name of their Gods and also others that do amazing works of charity and good, often in the service of the same.

She doesn’t know near as much as she thinks, but today was a good reminder that she knows more than I think, that there are an increasing number of outside influences on her. I don’t know where she got these ideas about God, but I kind of like the one that she described. He sounds nice.

 

 

Conquering the Chore Chart

 

I’ve mentioned this before, but when I was a freshman in high school I spent a weekend at The united States Military Academy in West Point, New York.  It was a trip organized by the Boy Scouts, with a camp out, a running of the obstacle course, and orienteering lessons. For me the trip served a secondary purpose, a chance to look around and talk to some Cadets. A chance to determine whether or not I should seriously pursue my ideas about applying there.

It was an eye opening experience, quickly convincing me that I probably didn’t possess the drive and self discipline that would be required.  One of the things that helped me come to this conclusion was hearing from some of the students that they slept every night on the floor next to their bunks rather than in them.  The standard for how their beds were prepared every morning was so strict that it simply wasn’t worth going through the process every day.

It’s a story that I was reminded of last night, shortly before my daughter’s bed time. She had gone upstairs to clean her room before brushing her teeth and settling down and as I headed in to check her progress I instead found her at the hallway closet, removing a spare pillow and sheet set.  She was so proud of the job that she had done making her bed that morning that she was insistent that she be allowed to sleep in a small tent set up in the corner of her room so that she wouldn’t mess it up.

The only way that she finally became agreeable to getting under her covers was if I agreed to take a picture of the bed so that she would know how to replicate her hard work the following day.

 

chore chart conundrum
too perfect to sleep in

 

Both the room cleaning and bed making are new daily jobs, two of the five that she must now complete every day in order to be in compliance with the chore chart that she helped put together at Daisy Scouts.

 

almost done for the day

 

On the surface this seems like a great idea, a way to start encouraging responsibility and introducing her to the idea of expectations regarding the sharing of household duties. Habits formed now that hopefully will continue in the future. An avoidance of the endless nagging that seems necessary to get her older sister to perform even the simplest of tasks.

Instead what we have is a new obsession, an extra half hour added on to our morning routine and the potential for a stern scolding if I get caught filling up the dog’s bowl.  The nearby chart offers no room for discussion regarding who’s job that now is.  I’m fairly certain that she is now purposely throwing her dirty clothes on the floor next to her hamper so that she will have something to clean up after her shower,  a way to clean a room that otherwise may not have needed cleaning that particular day.

Fortunately there doesn’t seem to be any real anxiety involved, something that her competitive nature always has me nervous about.  To her this is just another challenge that once accepted, must be completed. Every day.  No matter how late it makes us for school.

I still think a chore chart is a great idea. Still admire her drive, her willingness to help around the house, and the ferocity with which she attacks anything new.  A slight decrease in intensity once in a while would probably be OK though.

 

chore chart conundrum
Another day on the job

 

 

Taking One On The Chin

 

 

Another first
just another day of dragon hunting

 

Our day started well enough.  After an hour of running around the woods there was still plenty of time before the end of the teenager’s soccer practice for us to go to the adjacent playground for a while.  I settled in at a shaded picnic table to “watch this” as she walked across a steel balance beam approximately three feet off the ground somewhere between twenty and thirty times in a row.

It’s an act I had seen quite a bit of on our last visit.  A demonstration of agility she was thrilled that no longer required holding my hand to accomplish.  The latest challenge faced and overcome.

One that we may have been a bit premature in celebrating.

 

One to the chin
An unexpected detour

 

A lapse in concentration, a missed step and more blood than I would have expected later and we instead had our first visit to the Emergency Room, seven stitches being required to close the laceration on her chin.

As always, I was amazed by the toughness and resiliency of this kid. There were tears, there was some shock at the amount of blood, and there was fear when she was lay down for the sutures, but she handled it all without complaint.  After a numbing compress took some of the sting away her biggest concerns were over the chips in her freshly painted nails and whether or not she was still going to look pretty when her family came over for Easter dinner.

I’ll be curious to see what happens when we go back.  She has a stubbornness to her that has never really been tested in this manner before.  Will this be considered a failure that needs to be rectified, or a reason to stay away from the beam from now on?

I’m guessing that it’s going to be somewhere in the middle.  I won’t push, but if she needs some encouragement to get back on I’ll provide it.  Both of us will need her to be holding my hand the first few attempts.

There’s an old boxing cliche that a fighter can never be considered a true champion until the first time he takes one on the chin, hits the mat, and gets back up.  Today my daughter took her first real shot to the chin. I’m willing to bet she’ll be ready to go when the next round begins.